From a new outdoor stage to a wave of bars - 14 new openings to look forward to in Sunderland in 2022

From huge buildings changing the city skyline to new life being breathed into historic structures, there’s plenty of change to look forward to in Sunderland in 2022.

Saturday, 1st January 2022, 4:55 am

Lifestyle editor Katy Wheeler takes a look at the new restaurants, bars and businesses we can look forward to visiting.

1:Riverside rising into the city skyline

2021 saw the £42million City Hall building join The Beam on the new Riverside development – and that isn’t the end of the transformation of the old Vaux site.

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New additions heading to Sunderland in 2022

In total, Riverside amounts to £500m worth of investment and will see a mix of homes, leisure and offices on both sides of the river, as well as Galley’s Gill. Work has already begun on laying the foundations for new Legal & General offices next to the City Hall. In 2022, work will begin on the housing side of the development. Work is also likely to start on the new pedestrian bridge and the multi-storey car park in Farringdon Row.

2: The Parade Ground at the Fire Station

The new £11million auditorium opened at the Fire Station in December with a red hot opening programme which will bring Grammy nominees to Sunderland, whilst also providing a mid-size venue space for homegrown talent.

In the spring / summer its indoor programme will be complemented by a purpose-built outdoor stage being created at the back of the Fire Station. With a capacity of around 600 people, The Parade Ground will host mini festivals as well as outdoor theatre with retractable bleacher-style seating.

New buildings are set to rise into the skyline, as well as a new bridge, on the Riverside development in 2022.

3: The transformation of the old Hills bookstore

Work is forging ahead on transforming the much-missed old Hills bookstore in Waterloo Place.

The site, which closed as Hills in 2008, is undergoing a huge revamp after being taken over by Broadside Creatives Community Interest Company who are turning it into a multi-purpose arts centre housing a cafe, supplies shop, gallery, offices and exhibition space.

One of the highlights will be a Grinder Coffee Co coffee shop, a sister site to the popular shop in Durham Road. The original coffee shop will remain open, but the second shop means the business will be able to expand its food and drink offering.

The former Hills book shop in Waterloo Place is due to open as a multi-purpose arts and retail space in early 2022.

4: A new cultural venue for Sunderland

After years of painstaking restoration at the former Holy Trinity Church in Hendon, it’s due to open as 1719 in 2022.

Named after the year the church was created for the Parish of Sunderland, 1719 will be a new events and arts space for the city which has benefited from £4.3m of investment to restore and enhance its historic features.

Once at the heart of old Sunderland housing the old town’s council chamber and library, the church played a vital role in the community, but in more recent decades the Grade I-listed building had fallen into disrepair.

Work is set to begin on phase 2 of Stack Seaburn, as well as improvements to the walkway at the front.

5: The new Holiday Inn at Keel Square

As Sunderland sees huge growth in the city centre, it’s set to welcome more visitors and the new Holiday Inn will play a key role in accommodating them.

The £18m hotel set to open in 2022 has 120 beds and will create 130 new jobs. The ground floor also has four units which will house cafes and restaurants.

6: Phase 2 of Stack Seaburn

The first phase of Stack has proved incredibly popular, with 700,000 people visiting in its first year. Phase 2 is due to begin soon at the rear of phase 1.

It will feature larger, more experiential containers for games etc. It will also host a function suite for weddings and events. The walkway outside of the Stack Seaburn and the Seaburn Inn is also set to undergo more than £1million of improvements that includes new street furniture, planters and paving to match the look of the eastern promenade.

Ben Wall and Neil Bassett from the Mexico 70 team will open a new seafood restaurant in the former Bay shelter in Seaburn in February.

7: New seafood restaurant for Seaburn

A number of old buildings are being brought back into use as part of the Seafront Regeneration Scheme. Among them is the old Bay storage shelter at the far end of Seaburn promenade, which will open as a new seafood restaurant in February 2022.

Brought to the city by the team behind Mexico 70, Ship Isis and The Little Shop, it promises all day dining in a relaxed environment.

8: A seafront craft beer cafe

The team behind the successful Vaux brewery and taproom in Roker Retail Park have unveiled plans to create a craft beer cafe on the seafront.

They’ve submitted a planning application to transform the shelter in Marine Walk, Roker, which, if their bid is successful, will see the site become a new cafe and bar serving up craft ales towards the end of the year.

9: New chapter for the old Gilbridge Police Station

Love it or hate it, Gilbridge Police Station and its distinctive Brutalist architecture is a landmark city centre building. After years stood empty, work will begin this year to turn it into a state-of-the-art business centre.

It was revealed in 2020 that The Hanro Group had agreed outline terms with Sunderland City Council to buy the former divisional headquarters following a competitive-bid process.

As part of its multi-million pound proposal, the North East developer submitted details on a project to convert the site into modern flexible office spaces. This included a complete refurbishment, both internally and externally, to transform the concrete-clad building into a business hub aimed at small and medium-sized firms.

10: Tin of Sardines gin bar with sea views

As part of a wave of openings along the seafront, Tin of Sardines is due to open in the old toilet block on Pier View.

A new terrace has been created to make the most of the sea views, but there’s also indoor seating where you can enjoy its menu of more than 200 varieties of gin, a broad wine list, lagers, spirits and more as well as brunches, light bites and seafood.

It’s been brought to the city by the Davis family, who are also behind the successful Tin of Sardines and Old Tom’s gin bar in Durham.

11: New life for old Victorian tram shelter

The popular Blacks Corner deli and wine bar in East Boldon are set to take over the old Victorian tram shelter in Seaburn.

The award-winning eatery is the proposed tenant for the shelter – one of three historic buildings being revamped as part of investment from Sunderland City Council and The Coastal Communities Fund.

Although plans to change the use of the Grade II-listed Seaburn Tram Shelter to a café have already been granted, listed building consent is required for the physical works. Councillors on the Planning and Highways (East) Committee are expected to rule on the proposals when they next meet on Wednesday, January 5 2022.

12: Wetherspoons rooftop bar

There’s been a number of delays, but the new look Cooper Rose in Albion Place is finally due to open its doors in early 2022.

The reopening comes after a £2.2million upgrade, which included the creation of a new roof garden.

The Cooper Rose first opened in March 2011. Following the upgrade, it now has improved lift access and a larger ground floor bar.

13: More investment at Mackie’s Corner

The ground floor transformation of Mackie’s Corner is now complete with a host of quality, independent businesses, such as Fat Unicorn, Master Debonair and Sweet Petite.

Work now turns to renovating the upper floors, including the old Chambers nightclub, which will host a number of units for creative businesses. Expect more new openings in 2022 in the ongoing renaissance of these landmark city centre buildings.

14: Hylton Castle in all its glory

After years of campaigning, an investment of £4.2million and Covid delays, Hylton Castle has finally opened for pre-booked guided tours – with a fuller opening expected in 2022.

Painstaking work to renovate the historic structure began in autumn 2017 after years of campaigning by residents to put the castle at the heart of community life.

Once a neglected shell, it will now house a cafe as well as learning, event and exhibition spaces, with community-based training, learning and volunteering at the heart of the project. The transformation also includes a new roof with some of the best views in the city.

New train station on track

Although it won’t be finished in 2022, work will begin this year on Sunderland’s new central train station.

Preparatory works are due to begin in early 2022 when the demolition of the existing southern entrance will clear the way for what’s described as a ‘statement building’ overlooking Market Square.

The new entrance will feature a large glass wraparound design, and will include a new ticket office and reception, public toilets, retail space and cafes, comfortable waiting areas, as well as a new mezzanine level that will have office space reserved for railway industry staff.

It is the first part of a six-year programme that will see the northern entrance of the station reimagined and platform-level works undertaken to increase the capacity of the station, with four tracks and four platforms to separate Nexus and Metro from mainline services.

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Vaux have submitted plans to transform the old shelter in Roker, an expansion of their existing taproom in Roker Retail Park.
Work will begin this to transform the old Gilbridge Police Station into a state-of-the-art business centre in 2022.
Directors Ben Davis and his father Trevor standing on the terrace at the conversion of the old toilet block into a gin bar at Pier View, Roker. Picture by FRANK REID
The new Hylton Castle is set to reach its potential in 2022.