Over 1,000 sign Seaburn Tram Shelter petition to stop it being turned into a cafe
Residents want the council to revoke its decision on leasing the Grade II listed building
More than 1,000 residents have signed a petition calling on Sunderland City Council to keep Seaburn Tram Shelter “in its original form”, instead of converting it into a café.
Planning consent for the change was granted in 2019 as part of wider plans to regenerate little-used buildings on the seafront with plans for the buildings to become cafés or restaurants.
Last month it was announced that the former Bay Shelter building on Seaburn's Lower Promenade is set to be transformed into a high-end seafood restaurant by the team behind popular city centre restaurant Mexico 70.
Allison Hicks, from Seaburn, who started the petition, said: “My feeling is that we have lots of eating and drinking venues already on the seafront that have either just been built or that are going through a change of use right now and I think they’ve absorbed that eating and drinking kind of offer.
“We need to think a little bit more differently and we shouldn’t be providing that at the expense of losing our history and our heritage.
“The shelter is representative of Seaburn, and Roker and the coast for me. It is a place where I’ve walked past many times as a child growing up into a woman and I still do now.
“It’s a symbol of Seaburn, of home, of years gone by at the seaside.”
The petition has gained over 1,100 signatures since launching and Allison says residents want to engage with the council and come up with different ways of keeping the shelter free to the public as an information centre or a community building.
“There are examples of fine heritage buildings that are modernised, repurposed and are used very well,” she said.
“It needs to be a cultural representation or a symbol of our coast. Anything that fits with the building, that maintains the building at its standard and its current level that the public feel they have a right to open the door and go in without paying money.”
Sunderland City Council’s Cabinet Member for Dynamic City, Councillor Rebecca Atkinson, said: “The new uses are about bringing increased investment and vibrancy to a part of the city that has vast potential.
“Since 2019 the Tram Shelter, including the underground toilets, has been listed by Historic England. Its conversion requires Listed Building consent, in addition to the previous planning permission which was granted, before any works can take place.
“It is considered, however, that a sympathetic conversion of the shelter can be undertaken that will both preserve the historic fabric of the building and allow it to be used as a café/restaurant.
“Any application made to the Local Planning Authority for Listed Building consent will undergo public consultation before being presented to the Planning Committee for a decision.”
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