MULTI-million-pound plans to re-vamp run-down Sunderland streets and create a modern “gateway” into the city centre look set to be given the go-ahead by councillors.
The ambitious proposals for major work in St Mary’s Way and Livingstone Road 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 the proposals, which will go before Sunderland Council’s Development Control South Sub-Committee tomorrow (TUE), have been recommended for approval by planning officers.
If councillors give the final green light to the plans at the meeting, work could start next spring.
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.
A site 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.
A design statement, submitted to the local authority, said: “The creation of a new St Mary’s Way via a boulevard approach will help to transform the character of the highway network, providing wider footways, trees, a planted central reservation and dedicated bus lane.
“The main pedestrian access will not only provide a direct link between the city centre and Vaux site it will also provide for a more attractive and safer pedestrian environment.
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.
“The design of the super-crossing has been heavily influenced from concepts used throughout Europe and the Far East, such crossings work by reducing the sense of priority that vehicles have on the highway and empowering pedestrians, resulting in a safe and effective traffic calmed environment,” said the statement.
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.
A report by council officers concluded: “It is considered that the proposal is acceptable in principle and on balance, the proposal is acceptable in terms of highway engineering considerations, whilst by imposing conditions, should members be minded to approve the application, the scheme is acceptable in respect to ecological and archaeological considerations.”