Decision date for plans to turn historic Sunderland fire station into culture hub

Paul Callaghan and John Mowbray outside the old Fire Station in Dun Cow Street.
Paul Callaghan and John Mowbray outside the old Fire Station in Dun Cow Street.
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Plans to transform Sunderland’s former fire station into the centre of a new cultural quarter for the city will go before councillors next week.

The Sunderland Mac (Music, Art and Culture) Trust wants to turn the building – which has stood empty since 1992 – into dance and drama studios, a heritage centre and bar and restaurant.

The proposals will be considered by Sunderland City Council’s South Sunderland Development Control sub-committee on Tuesday afternoon.

Paul Callaghan, of the MAC Trust, said: “Our ambitious plan is to transform one of the most historic parts of the city into an exciting and vibrant area, where people will want to spend time.”

The plans show the ground floor of the building divided into two separate, but internally-linked units – a café and a bar/restaurant, which would include a micro-brewery in its rear section.

The first floor will be made up of dividable theatre and dance studios, changing facilities and a small bar, with exhibition space on the second floor of the building,

Proposed demolition involves removing about 50sqm of the former superintendent’s house, while retaining the façade, as well as the single-storey offshoot to the west side and rear and the 14.5metre high hose tower. A three-storey extension, behind the original facade, will replace the superintendent’s house. The floor area of the balcony will be increased and a new glass balustrade provided in place of the existing metal railings.

“In general terms, the proposal broadly retains the historic layout of the former fire station, and the new uses of the building are considered to have been sympathetically accommodated within these spaces,” says the committee report.

The report recommends requiring the developers to provide a full schedule of all works.

It stops short of recommending approval, with drainage implications still under consideration and the deadline for submission of views not due to expire until the day before the hearing.