PLANS for the first development in the revamp of Sunderland’s seafront have been given the go-ahead by councillors.
Award-winning Wearside-based Fitz Architects and Jet, which owns Martinos restaurants in Sunderland and Seaham, have been given the nod to redevelop the run-down Seaburn Shelter into a seaside complex.
The plans will see a top floor built with giant glass walls offering views out to sea and up the coast, as well as public toilets and improved access to the beach.
Councillor Betty Gibson, who sits on Sunderland City Council’s planning committee, said: “I certainly welcome this application.
“This type of development has been needed for a long time.
“Members have gone on and on about the need for some facilities for our seafront to attract tourists and day-visitors.
“We need shelter for them if the weather is bad here, and public toilets. This is absolutely brilliant.”
The top floor of the building will be divided into two business premises, which could be used as bar, restaurant or cafe space.
The lower floor can be divided into between two and eight smaller units to be used as either cafe, shop or office space depending on the needs of the tenants.
Principal planning officer Mike Mattock told a meeting of the North Sunderland development control committee that the developers had applied for a mix of uses to allow for seasonal and flexible letting.
The building will also house an RNLI lifeguard post and council resort office area, public toilets and changing facilities.
There is a covered outdoor area on the top floor, which dog walkers and other visitors on wet days could use.
There will also be outdoor seating areas at beach level and a new staircase down to the sands which ties in with the council’s plans for a central boulevard and plaza leading down to the promenade and sea front.
St Peter’s councillor Barry Curran asked at the meeting if there was a risk of flooding to the building.
Mr Mattock said the Environment Agency had been consulted on the issue and deemed shutters, which will be installed in the lower floor of the building, would safeguard against flooding and shingle damage.
Fulwell councillor Lilian Walton raised concerns over potential parking problems resulting from the new development.
Mr Mattock said there was ample parking along Whitburn Road and traffic engineers said they had looked at the issue but did not anticipate any problems.
Southwick councillor Rosalind Copeland, chairing the committee, voiced fears over public toilets in the building and asked if they would be closed at specific times to prevent damage and antisocial behaviour.
“We don’t want to have a nice building spoiled by toilets being used for inappropriate activities,” she said.
Mr Mattock suggested the toilets could be locked when the last business in the building closed for the night.
Councillors agreed unanimously to approve planning permission for the development.
Mr Mattock said the council was still accepting representations from the public on the planning application until November 29.
He said as long as no fresh submissions were received, the proposals would be rubber-stamped – but would be returned to committee should representations be received.