Investment in Sunderland reaches £1.5billion milestone

(from left) Siglion chief executive John Seager, Igloo Regeneration director David Roberts, Carillion development director Chris Ives and Sunderland City Council leader Paul Watson at the start of work on the Vaux site
(from left) Siglion chief executive John Seager, Igloo Regeneration director David Roberts, Carillion development director Chris Ives and Sunderland City Council leader Paul Watson at the start of work on the Vaux site
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Investment in Sunderland has topped £1.5billion, with a series of major infrastructure projects set to transform the face of the city over the next seven years.

Sunderland Business Partnership has been collating the level of investment ploughed into the city since last year, and with new projects such as The Launch – the new promontory to be built on the Vaux site; the extension of The Bridges shopping centre; and further plans to improve the Cultural Quarter, with the restoration of The Londonderry pub, the cumulative total has reached a new milestone figure.

Gary Hutchinson

Gary Hutchinson

The business partnership, chaired by former Sunderland AFC-commercial director Gary Hutchinson, has been working with organisations such as Sunderland City Council and regeneration organisation Siglion to keep tabs on the fast-growing investment total.

"I think there is a definite sense in Sunderland that the city is changing, that there is a momentum building," said Mr Hutchinson.

"However, feeling it and being able to quantify it are two different things, so we started to collate the figures and to see how that sense of momentum is playing out in real terms – i.e money being spent.

"It was instantly clear that the numbers backed up our belief of change in the city. We identified £1billion of investment very quickly – and then £1.2billion by the middle of last year. Now, with more announcements of major infrastructure projects, we have seen that Sunderland is attracting £1.5billion of public and private sector investment – investment that will absolutely transform the city.

The vision for the first phase of the Vaux site project

The vision for the first phase of the Vaux site project

"It’s an incredible figure and is a reason for people in Sunderland to feel confident that the future of the city is bright.”

The figure includes projects that are already underway, like the new Wear crossing, which is scheduled for completion in 2018, and the Vaux development, which got started in December. It also includes projects such as the development of a new hotel on High Street West and the Hope Street Xchange, the University of Sunderland’s new enterprise hub at St Michael's Way.

"We’ve seen hugely significant projects get off the ground over the course of the last year," said Mr Hutchinson.

"People say the measure of a city-on-the-up is the number of cranes you see, and I can scarcely recall seeing so much activity in Sunderland to rebuild the city.

"We’re a place that is really starting to realise its potential – to think big, and by 2024 – a date we set on when developing the 3,6,9 Vision, which is a blueprint for Sunderland’s growth in the next three, six and nine years – we will be a very, very different city."

North East England Chamber of Commerce chief executive, James Ramsbotham backed the city’s ambitions and applauded the cross-sector approach which has businesses and the city council working together.

"The investment flowing into Sunderland at the moment is testament to the positive joined-up work being done in a city that is most definitely heading in the right direction," he said.

"There is a groundswell of optimism in Sunderland at the moment with recent announcements from Nissan, the bid for City of Culture 2021 and the start of work on the former Vaux site and it is fantastic to see the city capitalising on this."

How the investment breaks down:

New Wear Crossing, Sunderland City Council, £118million
Beacon of Light and Hotel, SAFC, £21million
High Street West refurbishment, Sunderland City Council, £4million
Sunderland Station, Sunderland City Council, City Council, £10million
City Campus, Sunderland College, £29million
City Deal, Sunderland City Council, £290million
Growth Hub, Sunderland University, £9million
Science Complex Phase 2, Sunderland University, £6million
Premier Inn, Sunderland University, £6million
Fire Station, Cultural Partnership, £2million