Taking stock of a city centre revival

Work underway on the new Sunderland Software Centre on the site of the former Tavistock Car Park, Sunderland.
Work underway on the new Sunderland Software Centre on the site of the former Tavistock Car Park, Sunderland.
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Creating more jobs in the heart of Sunderland is a key part of the city council’s 15-year economic masterplan.

The centre will be a new centrepiece for Sunderland Software City, the initiative aimed at making Wearside a global centre for the industry, and as well as providing homes for 60 cutting-edge businesses, will feature an exhibition space showing visitors the role software plays in their lives in a fun and interactive way.

Construction firm BAM – which has previously worked on developments such as Johannesburg Soccer City, the venue of the recent World Cup Final – has been appointed to build the centre.

Janet Snaith, city head of business investment, said: “The Software City Initiative has already proven to be a huge success and new businesses have moved into the council’s Evolve centre at Rainton Bridge Business Park.

“I am sure this building will prove equally successful in generating new businesses and jobs in this exciting new hi-tech sector.”

The building is expected to open early next year. Workers have been on site for the last couple of weeks preparing the ground, but now construction is set to begin in earnest.

Software City chief executive Bernie Callaghan said: “This development is not just about bringing jobs and investment to Sunderland, it’s about creating a building both the city and the region can be proud of, which we hope will become the home of regional and national software innovation.

“The building is also a sign of the progress being made in the North East in cutting-edge industries, underlining our region’s industrial rebirth.”

The new centre is being part-financed with a £4.75million grant from the European Regional Development Fund, secured through regional development agency One North East, which is also contributing £2.95million to the project. Sunderland City Council is providing £2.6million.