Student flats plan for former bar in Sunderland’s struggling cultural quarter

Eau Zone, Norfolk Street, Sunderland.
Eau Zone, Norfolk Street, Sunderland.
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A FORMER restaurant could be transformed into student flats.

Cafe and bar Eauzone, in Norfolk Street in Sunderland city centre, closed in June 2010.

The three-storey building could now be turned into accommodation with 44 beds if a planning application is granted.

If the change-of-use bid by Epsom Homes Limited is approved by Sunderland City Council, the ground floor would be offices and the remainder seven “multiple occupation” apartments.

The developer says the new-look Argent Business Centre will bring “additional vibrancy” to the area, which has seen more than £2million invested in it in recent years.

But Hendon councillor Barbara McClennan believes the city does not need more student accommodation.

She said: “It is becoming clear that there is a new interest among developers to turn city centre commercial premises into residential units.

“Given the council’s own strategy towards city centre developments, this is not necessarily a bad thing – more people living in the centre will create more economic opportunity and a more diverse evening economy.

“However, in my view, too many of these schemes are targeted at student accommodation, when there is already a significant over-supply of that type of dwelling in the city.

“I also have general concerns – not necessarily linked to this scheme – that developers could brand their schemes student accommodation, only to develop hostels – of which we already have too many in my ward.”

She added the that council could not prevent more student accommodation, but she would prefer homes are being created for people to put down roots in the city centre.