Fears as Sunderland University plans to sell off Seaburn land for housing

Coun George Howe stands on land owned by the University of Sunderland, Weardale Aveune, South Bents, which is being sold.
Coun George Howe stands on land owned by the University of Sunderland, Weardale Aveune, South Bents, which is being sold.
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Sunderland University has announced plans to sell off a slice of land for housing.

The fields off South Bents Avenue, in Seaburn, are for sale as the university looks to generate cash.

I understand the university doing it, but I can’t agree with it.

Councillor George Howe

It says the land does not support its plans and is marketing the 10 acre site to a developer.

But community representatives have expressed concerns about the level of housing in the area and fears that a recreational site will be lost.

New homes also feature in plans by Siglion to regenerate the Seaburn area alongside proposed new cafes, leisure activities and a hotel.

The advert for the land, which is bordered by Weardale Avenue and Huncliffe Avenue, says it is an “excellent residential development opportunity in a sought after location,” championing its proximity to the beach, Morrisons, the city centre, parks and restaurants.

The university has said it is looking to develop its other sites, such as its city centre and St Peter’s campuses.

Conservative councillor George Howe, who represents the Fulwell Ward on Sunderland City Council, has expressed fears about the future of the site.

“I’m totally against it,” he said.

“I understand the university doing it, but I can’t agree with it.

“It’s been there for a long time.

“People will complain about this, it’s inevitable, but people on South Bents Avenue will be worried and there are already concerns about the sewerage system.

“It is used as a recreation area, a lot of people walk on it, and they will see it as another development near to the seafront and there will be a loss of green space.

“The reason behind it is to raise cash to invest into the university and they agree with the council in wanting Sunderland to be a university city, rather than a city with a university.

“They want to raise money from that site and the university has decided it no longer wants it.”

Coun Howe said that if the land is to be sold off, he would like to see funding go into the university’s engineering department, as he wants to see more engineers turned out by the city,

The university has said it has looked at its estate portfolio a it looks to focus resources on the assets which support its “core business.”

A spokesman added: “The location and nature of the open space at Seaburn does not support the university’s activities and we will be actively marketing the land at Seaburn for sale.

“We are keen to ensure that the sale of this land is managed in a responsible, appropriate manner, maintaining open and transparent communication with local residents and all ward councillors. 

“When the time comes to select a preferred developer we would be looking for a company which shares this desire to actively engage with the local community through the implementation of a robust consultation strategy.”

Newcastle-based Naylors, which has advertised the land, is handling submitted offers.