THE drive to regenerate Sunderland’s Vaux site and create up to 4,000 city centre jobs has been handed a £2million-plus Euro-cash boost.
The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Competitiveness Programme is investing £2.25million to support phase one of the redevelopment.
The fund is managed by the Department for Communities and Local Government.
Communities. Minister Baroness Hanham said: “European Regional Development Fund investment is supporting the redevelopment of this brownfield site, creating a distinctive identity for Sunderland and integrating the site with the rest of the city centre.
“This will accelerate commercial opportunities and remove barriers to investment. Creating a new and inspiring business location coupled with a high quality urban quarter will reinvigorate Sunderland city centre, generating crucial private sector investment and consequent local growth, with the potential for 4,000 jobs on site.”
Creating more jobs in the centre of Sunderland is a key element in the city council’s economic masterplan.
Council bosses want to create a business area that will generate an estimated £200million in private sector investment.
The ERDF investment will be matched by the city council and help fund a scheme which will improve access to the site and create a new public square, with pedestrian links integrating the site into the city centre, paving the way for redevelopment of the 8.3 hectare site to start.
Plans for a £13million-plus revamp of the entire St Mary’s Way area are already in the pipeline.
City council leader Coun Paul Watson said: “It’s excellent news for Sunderland that ERDF is supporting such a significant regeneration project for our city.
“To be prosperous, our city centre needs more people living and working in it and a productive central business district on Vaux, alongside improved retail offer, new public space and better pedestrian access will help us to achieve our goals.
“We have a magnificent vision for our city centre, which is gradually coming to fruition.”
The Vaux site has been unused for more than a decade, after the brewery closed in 2001. Council bosses had been in talks with owner Whitbread about a deal to buy the land, but the firm sold the plot to Tesco before the cash could be found.
The move sparked a decade-long legal wrangle, with the supermarket giant’s plan to build a store on the site bitterly opposed by the city council and regeneration company Sunderland arc.
The dispute was finally resolved in 2010, when Tesco was granted permission to develop an alternative site on Sunderland Retail Park, at the other end of Wearmouth Bridge, and the council finally took ownership of the site two years ago this month.