Historic school building to become tea shop if plans are approved
An entrepreneur has left a career in IT to start a new business, converting an historic school building into a tea room.
Scott Richards, originally from Herrington, was a project manager with a home in Birtley until he took the plunge in January this year and decided to buy the Cox Green Old School House and the adjoining headmaster’s house, where he now lives with his family. The 1878 buildings cost £570,000.
Subject to planning application approval, he intends to open the school house, which stands on the corner of Coxgreen Road close to Wearside Golf Club, as a tea room in one of the most picturesque parts of Sunderland.
Scott is married to Joanne, 39. They have three children: Libby 17, Harry, seven and Charlotte Grace, five. The business will be family run and they have already carried out considerable renovations to the derelict building, which has not been a school since 1975.
It has since been a chicken farm and more recently just used for storage. New flooring, fire alarms and a kitchen have been fitted, while utilities have been reconnected. There will be a tea and coffee shop as well as a private dining area.
Plastering and painting has also been carried out, while the toilets will be renovated too.
Outside there will be a converted horse box serving food and drinks when the weather allows, and there will be parking for 10-15 vehicles.
The building is not listed, but it is classed as a “non-designated heritage asset”, which means it is significant and of historic interest.
All being well, the Richards could be doing business within weeks.
Scott said: “It’s a change of life. I’m a people person and it will be a welcome change after sitting day after day in front of a computer.
“I want to do something I enjoy and drive it along. It will be a family business and it will mean I can see a lot more of my family. It’s not about money, it’s about spending more time together. I’m 46 now, so it was time to take action.
“It’s been hard work but enjoyable. We’ve brought in the right people and I’ve made a couple of good friendships.”
Sunderland City Council is expected to decide on the application in around four weeks time.