Plans for a new £1.5million road - designed to help boost Sunderland’s emerging cultural quarter - have been announced.
The ‘Minster Quarter Access Road’ is being considered by Sunderland City Council’s Cabinet in a move which chiefs hope will attract more city centre visitors and investment to Wearside.
It also follows recent consultation on the city’s Minster Quarter Masterplan.
Cabinet meets on Wednesday, June 21, and a report for the meeting is set to outline how planners think the road will boost key city centre sites.
Councillor Mel Speding, the council’s cabinet secretary, said: “The recent Masterplan identified the constraints of the route network at the rear of the Empire as a major issue.
“This is especially true for the larger vehicles that transport equipment and for the ever-growing number of buses and coaches that are dropping-off and picking up theatre goers.
“The Minster Quarter Masterplan also recognised how with the redevelopment of the Fire Station and the auditorium by the Music Arts and Culture (MAC) Trust there will be more traffic pressure on this part of High Street West.
“Therefore the council is looking to make further improvements to the highways and to the built environment here.”
Coun Speding added: “This new road can be a boost for us all.
“It will improve the existing function of the road network here allowing cars, coaches, and service vehicles to come into and out of the area more efficiently.”
The new road would come through the former Gillbridge Police Station site and link into St Mary’s Boulevard and a one-way servicing route for the Empire theatre.
It is being designed to “ease egress and the exit” from the area.
There would be no access in from St Mary’s Boulevard as the current entry and access points for High Street West, the Empire, and Sunderland Minster would remain.
“Improvements here with this exit route will help everyone who uses the area and also help with new developments from the MAC Trust, and help with more development in the future,” said Coun Speding.
“This can be another very positive development for our city.”
Subject to the cabinet meeting, more detailed design and contract work will be completed and, subject to all the necessary permissions, site works could begin early next year.
A number of street-scape works, including improvements for pedestrians outside the Empire are also earmarked.
The road is part of a wider programme of “Investment Corridor” works that the council is developing.
These include the third phase of the Sunderland Strategic Transport Corridor to complete a dual-carriageway into the city centre, and returning North Bridge Street to two-way traffic.