A CITY centre site is to be transformed into a £29million college campus.
Sunderland College will build its new flagship base on land opposite Park Lane bus station, running courses for 2,000 students and becoming the home for 120 staff.
The development will see the land known as the Holmeside Triangle regenerated, with work scheduled to begin on the site in the autumn, should planning permission pass without issue.
Education and council leaders say it will give the city centre’s economy a boost and attract more students in from outside the area, with the site championed for its good transport links.
Anne Isherwood, the college’s principal, said: “This investment is a huge boost for Sunderland and especially the city centre.
“The campus will provide high-class facilities for vocational learners across the region and will give us a flagship site that will strengthen our offer to students, and make us more aligned to the needs of local businesses.
“As well as providing a major boost for the college, it is fantastic to be playing a role in the regeneration of the city centre.
“There is a huge amount of work going on to improve the city centre, and having a campus right at the heart of Sunderland will help to really invigorate the area as well as giving Sunderland College a more compelling offer.
“I believe we will be able to attract more students from outside the city as well as those from Sunderland.
“It’s an exciting time for Sunderland College as well as education provision in the city.”
Cash to cover the cost of the complex will come from the Skills Funding Agency, Sunderland City Council and the college’s own reserves.
Courses to be run from the new centre will include engineering, manufacturing, construction trades, automotive skills, travel and tourism, catering and hospitality.
The public will also be able to take advantage of its hairdressers, beauty salon, barbers, spa, bakery and a restaurant.
The courses will move from the Hylton Campus, with college chiefs stating the North Hylton Road centre will eventually close.
Councillor Paul Watson, council leader, said: “The continued development of the city centre is absolutely crucial to the future of Sunderland.
“So we’re delighted to see the Skills Funding Agency and Sunderland College investing in this key regeneration site and it’s a development we’re very happy to support.
“To have a flagship campus on this site will be a major boost for the city centre and its economy.
“It’s also ideal for the staff and students who will be based there with its excellent transport links and city centre location.”
Ken Dunbar, chief executive of Sunderland Business Improvement District, added: “It is tremendous to hear that Sunderland College is now able to move into purpose-built premises in the city centre.
“This will give a much-needed boost to city centre businesses and traders, and help build the buzz and vibrancy needed to help the city achieve its potential.”
A public consultation event on the new development will be held on Wednesday from 2pm to 7pm, at the Civic Centre, where everyone can put forward their views on the plans.
The land has been undergoing clearance by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), which owns the site.
It has put in a planning application to demolish shops, the former Independent nightclub and warehouses to the rear, to allow for redevelopment, with the proposal being considered by the council.
The college has said negotiations are continuing with the HCA, which is working with partners in its plans, to ensure the best scheme is agreed for the city.