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New £13million look for Sunderland city centre

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MULTI-million-pound plans to re-vamp run-down city centre streets and create a modern “gateway” into Sunderland today moved a step closer.

The proposals for major work in St Mary’s Way and Livingstone Road, revealed for the first time in these artist’s impressions, will see much-needed road improvements carried out on the busy route into and out of the city, creating new landscaping, boulevard and public space.

The remodelling work, which is hoped will pave the way for the re-development of the nearby Vaux site, will also include the demolition of properties in Crowtree Road.

Now, a formal planning application, complete with detailed design and access statement, has been submitted to Sunderland City Council.

After public consultation, it is expected to go before the local authority’s planning committee before the end of the year.

“The proposed scheme will improve the connectivity between Vaux and the rest of the city centre,” the plans state. “It will also accommodate any additional traffic arising from the future redevelopment of Vaux.”

Earlier this year, council bosses unveiled the scheme, costing an estimated £13.4million, as part of their £60million capital spending programme.

It will transform the area into an “attractive” boulevard, creating a traffic-free area known as Magistrate’s Square.

They said the area currently gives an “unwelcoming and uninspiring image” of the city and acts as a barrier to pedestrians.

It is hoped the plans will help them realise their vision for the Vaux site, which the council sees as key to attracting thousands of jobs into the city centre.

Under the plans, Magistrate’s Square – at the top of High Street West, outside the Corner Flag pub – will be able to host markets, concerts, displays, festivals and big-screen events.

Improving traffic flow on St Mary’s Way will also help connect the Port of Sunderland with major routes in and out of the region, which could increase the chances of new contracts in the future.

The proposals also include the idea of a “super crossing” which will allow large numbers of pedestrians and cyclists to cross the new boulevard, giving direct access to the Vaux site.

It is believed that developers would be more likely to invest in the site after the work is completed because they would not manage to achieve a return on investment if they undertook work on St Mary’s Way themselves.

The roadworks, which are expected to take about 12 months to complete, could begin next spring.

Work on Magistrates’ Square would begin in April 2014 and be finished by November 2014.

Sunderland Council acquired the Vaux site in 2011, with substantial funding from the Homes and Communities Agency.

Since then, work has taken place in a bid to improve the site’s appearance in the short term.

It includes creating a grassed open space and temporary car park.

Twitter: @SunderlandEcho

 

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