THE possible closure of the city centre police station and magistrates’ court should be seen an “opportunity to attract private investment”, say council bosses.
A question mark is hanging over the future of both the police station and the adjacent court building following Northumbria Police’s decision to close Gill Bridge in the face of cuts.
Sunderland City Council is investing heavily in the redevelopment of the square outside the buildings, created by the ongoing realignement St Mary’s Way.
It is hoped the, as yet unnamed, square will become a meeting and focal point in the city centre.
When asked if the council sees the probability that both Gill Bridge and the magistrates’ court building will soon be out of use as an issue to the development, Councillor Mel Speding said: “We see this situation more as an opportunity than an “issue”. If these changes do come about they will present opportunities for attracting further private sector investment to support the ongoing regeneration of that area of the city.”
The council does not own either of the sites.
Civic leaders confirmed they were working to a deadline that would see the square completed this winter.
It will feature two artworks as its centrepiece – Propellers of the City and The Keel Line – to celebrate the city’s industrial and shipbuilding heritage, along with water features, landscaping, street furniture and space for cafe culture-style entertainment.
Artist impressions of how the square will look have been released. Tories in the city have expressed concerns the plans could divide Sunderland into two city centres: Magistrates’ Square and the Market Square, both of which are far from the bus terminal and move the city centre further west “to the detriment of Sunniside”.