Revealed: How Sunderland city centre could be transformed by Minster Quarter masterplan

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A major revamp of Sunderland city centre could see new bars, restaurants shops and a hotel open while protecting the area’s history, council chiefs have revealed.

The plan has been drafted to suggest how the city’s “Minster Quarter” should develop and be protected in coming years – and Wearsiders are being urged to have their say.

Included in the area is the Sunderland Empire, High Street West shopping district, Keel Square and the Magistrates’ Court.

A hotel, numerous retail outlets, bars, restaurants, museums, galleries and even a heritage centre could be created as part of the proposals within the next few years.

The court, HMRC tax office and police station buildings could all be used to accommodate the changes.

As part of Sunderland’s Economic Masterplan, two aims linked to the Minster Quarter are that a “new kind of university city” is created, with a “prosperous and well-connected waterfront city centre”. That includes the redevelopment of the former Vaux site, which would not only provide space for businesses but also increase the number of people living in the city centre.

Coun Mel Speding, the council’s cabinet secretary, said: “We’re all proud of our heritage in Sunderland.

“This masterplan is about ensuring that the fabric of the Minster Quarter is protected, enhanced, and sympathetically developed in the future.

“It goes without saying that with the Minster itself, the Sunderland Empire, and the growing cultural quarter, it’s a very important part of our city.

“The Music, Arts and Cultural (MAC) Trust and the University of Sunderland are helping to make more of the area’s evolving cultural scene by developing buildings like the old fire station.”

Outdoor Performance Space.

Outdoor Performance Space.

The Minster Quarter is classed as being bounded by the inner ring road, in St Michael’s Way, and Town Park to the west, Keel Square, the magistrates’ court and former police station to the north.

The eastern limit is West Street, the Crowtree site and the Bridges Shopping Centre, with the southern limit set at Chester Road.

The majority of the Quarter falls within the Bishopwearmouth Conservation Area and houses a number of listed buildings of architectural and historic interest, including the Minster and the Empire.

Coun Speding added: “Other developments in and around the city centre are all part of this big picture alongside the Minster Quarter.

“By drafting this Minster Masterplan, and including more comments and observations, we can all help guide future development and preservation.”

Residents can view the plans and supporting documents as part of an exhibition at the Minster until Tuesday, December 13.

Council officers will be at the Minster to discuss and note comments on Thursday, November 24, from 9am to 1pm, on Thursday, December 1, from 3pm to 7pm, and on Thursday, December 8, from 11am to 3pm.

The masterplan documents can also be viewed at www.sunderland.gov.uk/minster-quarter. Comments can be submitted via the website or by emailing UrbanDesign@sunderland.gov.uk.

The Londonderry in Sunderland city centre. Picture by Jane Coltman

The Londonderry in Sunderland city centre. Picture by Jane Coltman

Land between High Street West and Crowtree Road, Sunderland City Centre.

Land between High Street West and Crowtree Road, Sunderland City Centre.