‘The time for change is now’ – TV architect George Clarke blasts Sunderland’s regeneration failure

George Clarke

George Clarke

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“THE time for change is now” - says expert architect George Clarke about the regeneration of his hometown.

The former Sunderland College student and TV star says that a lack of progress has plagued Sunderland’s city centre in recent times, leaving it lagging behind other big cities in the North East.

“It needs a financially viable masterplan.

“Anybody can draw shapes on a piece of paper,” said the 39-year-old who grew up in Washington.

“The football club has done a great job of regenerating the north side of the river and there needs to be regeneration on the south too with a link between the two, a new pedestrian bridge.

“It needs to be something which will trigger real economic change in the area, cultural buildings as well as other buildings, like housing.

“If you look at Newcastle Quayside, its regeneration started with the court and led to the development of old buildings like the Baltic and the Malmaison.

“Sunderland really hasn’t moved on in the way it should have in the past 20 years.

“The wrangle over the Vaux site over the last 10-15 years has been a complete waste of time.

“The council needs to get its skates on and everyone, the university, the council, needs to work together. The time for change is now.”

George is in Sunderland today for a book signing of Amazing Spaces, based on the TV show of the same name, from noon at Waterstones in The Bridges.

It is the first time the former Blackfell Primary pupil, who is best known for fronting Channel 4 show The Restoration Man, has held a book signing in his home town.

Published to coincide with the second series of George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces on Channel 4, the book shows how unexpected small spaces such as sheds and buses can be adapted into living areas and retreats.

George said: “With all these grand property shows and big buildings, these small builds give everyone a chance to get involved in their very own piece of design in an affordable way, and often, a weird and wonderful way.

“If you’re doing work to your house it’s a serious thing, it’s takes a level of investment plus you can’t take too many risks in case you want to sell, but Amazing Spaces is about people having a go, they take a relaxed approach to it because it’s something like a garden shed, not a house. People are more playful and fun with it.”

lGeorge Clarke’s Amazing Spaces by George Clarke with Jane Field-Lewis, published by Quadrille Publishing, costs £20.