Go-ahead for new business centre in former Sunderland Gas Board building

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MULTIMILLION-POUND plans to build a state-of-the-art business enterprise and innovation centre in Sunderland city centre have been given the go-ahead.

The University of Sunderland will transform the former Gas Board building, in Hind Street, into a four-storey facility, featuring a digital manufacturing laboratory.

This is the next step towards achieving our plans to breathe new life into this prominent, Grade-II listed red-brick building, by creating a centre for enterprise and innovation in the city centre.

Sunderland City Council has now given developers permission to start work on the Grade-II listed property. A second building, to be constructed, will also form part of the development.

Today, Tony Ikwue, director of Enterprise and Innovation at the University of Sunderland, welcomed the move by the Development Control South Planning Sub-Committee, to pass the application.

“Receiving planning approval for the former Gas Board building on Hind Street is excellent news for us at the University of Sunderland,” he said. “This is the next step towards achieving our plans to breathe new life into this prominent, Grade-II listed red-brick building, by creating a centre for enterprise and innovation in the city centre.”

As well as a Fablab – which will include 3D printers, design software and scanners to allow entrepreneurs, small businesses, students and schools to experiment with new products – the centre will provide modern office and work space, conference and meeting facilities as well as a cafe.

“The new centre will attract and create more than 700 jobs in new and innovative growth businesses,” said Tony.

“Funding for this project is provided by the University of Sunderland, a £4.9m investment from the North East LEP, via the Government’s Growth Deal programme.”

Proposals for the centre were devised after collaboration with companies through Sunderland Business Group, the North East Local Enterprise Partnership and Sunderland Council.

The enterprise and innovation hub will support companies in the city and the wider region, allowing them to trial new ideas and bring them closer to market.

It is hoped they will also be able to make the most of leading academic expertise, student and graduate support, as well as access to a network of professionals.