A NEW £10million project that will bring about 140 jobs to the city has been given the go-ahead.
Proposals for the centrepiece of the Software City initiative have been approved by councillors, meaning work on the building will start later this year.
The three-storey building on the Tavistock Place car park will provide a home for 60 hi-tech businesses as a key part of efforts to make Sunderland a hub of modern software industries.
It is scheduled to be completed next year.
Bernie Callaghan, Chief Executive Officer of Sunderland Software City, said: “Sunderland was recently described by the BBC as ‘the UK’s software capital’ and this building will be a striking symbol of the rapid recent growth of our local software industry.
“The project is not just about bringing investment and jobs to the city centre - it’s about creating a regional and national focal point for the development of world-leading software that both Sunderland and the wider North East can be proud of.”
Washington South councillor Graeme Miller said: “I very much welcome the proposal. We are in trying times and this decision shows we are trying to bring forward proposals to bring jobs and improve the city centre.”
“(These) jobs are in an area where we know we have growth – hi-tech jobs for the 21st-century jobs market.”
The work is set to be completed in 2012.
The plans were unanimously approved by councillors – though there were concerns over the loss of parking at 94-space Tavistock Place car park, and the impact it would have on businesses and residents in the area.
St Michael’s councillor Peter Wood said the concerns should be listened to, and questioned why other sites looked at for the development – including Holmeside, where plans for a retail development have stalled – were not considered more suitable.
He also suggested the council look at providing parking in a little-used bus lay-by and a grassed verge in the area, pointing out that the new complex would create more traffic in the area while reducing the number or parking spaces.
It was said, though, that the car park in Tatham Street would remain and there were also plans for a 100-space enclosed car park in the area.
Coun Miller said the council must take city centre residents’ concerns into account, but if they tried to accommodate everyone completely there would never be any development in the area.
Labour colleague Phil Tye, who represents Silksworth, said the development would help regenerate what was a run-down area and pointed out that historically, drivers had avoided parking at Tavistock Place because of crime fears.
The software centre plans were originally due to be approved before Christmas, but a last-minute court ruling on previously rejected plans for a neighbouring site meant further work needed to be carried out on the impact of the complex.