First look at multi-million pound vision for cultural hub at old Sunderland fire station

An artist's impression from Ainsworth Spark Associates showing how the Old Fire Station in High Street West might look like.

An artist's impression from Ainsworth Spark Associates showing how the Old Fire Station in High Street West might look like.

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Here are the first images of what Sunderland’s former city centre fire station could look like should it be turned into a cultural hub.

A planning application has been submitted to transform the 106-year-old Edwardian building into a restaurant, dance and theatre space.

An artist's impression from Ainsworth Spark Associates showing how the Old Fire Station in High Street West might look like.

An artist's impression from Ainsworth Spark Associates showing how the Old Fire Station in High Street West might look like.

A cafe and bar area would also be created with alterations to the rear of the building carried out too.

The station, which has stood empty for two decades, was created as part of a programme of architectural activity by the Milburn brothers, who were also responsible for the nearby Sunderland Empire and Magistrates’ Court.

But while the Empire has thrived, bringing in thousands of visitors to the city each year, the fire station, in High Street West, which housed five engines and firefighters, has been forgotten.

Sunderland entrepreneur Paul Callaghan, Sunderland University deputy chairman John Mowbray, and the rest of the Mac Trust (Sunderland Music Arts and Culture) members have been hard at work over the past couple of years to change that.

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.

Last last year, the group secured £2.4million from the Heritage Lottery Fund towards funding the revamp.

The images come from Newcastle-based architects Ainsworth Spark Associates.

Peter Nugent, from the company, said: “We are delighted to be working with the Sunderland MAC Trust to bring this important and fascinating building back to life as a hub for performing arts.”

Sunderland City Council has given its support to the cultural quarter, which would be called the MACQ, as part of ongoing regeneration of that particular corner of the city centre.

Within the plans for the station it is said that there is a general level of decay inside the building, which has vacant since the early 1990s, as well as a pigeon infestation.

A consultation over the plans, which can be seen on the planning section of the council’s website, ends on Thursday, December 3.

A decision over whether to approve the proposals is set to be made early in the new year.