See inside Sunderland's transformed Gilbridge Police Station as it takes shape as 'The Yard' under £3.5million development

Work is fast progressing on the transformation of the former Gilbridge Police Station.

A landmark city centre building since 1972 when it was built as Sunderland’s main police station, it served Wearside for decades before Northumbria Police moved out in 2015.

(Our video shows the empty police station in 2021 ahead of works)

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With its prime location, the 3,000 sq m building was earmarked for development for some time, before Hanro was confirmed as being the preferred developer for the building in 2020, after a competitive bidding process.

Work progressing on The Yard

In March 2022, they started work on transforming the building into multi-purpose office space, named The Yard after Scotland Yard, with Sunderland-based Brims Construction appointed for the building work.

Work is now nearing completion on the top floor of the building, which was formerly the officers’s club, ready for potential tenants when the building is handed over in late November.

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The lower three floors are also fast taking shape. The ground floor, which will also feature a business lounge, meeting rooms and a leisure space, is now fully let.

Meanwhile, remaining offices are available on the other floors, which can accommodate offices ranging from 500 sq ft to 23,000 sq ft, depending on the tenant.

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Ongoing works on The Yard at the former Gilbridge police station. From left Brims Construction site manager Sean Spencer and and project manager John Wardropper.

Due to the building being well built with a solid concrete frame, builders have been able to maintain original features such as the Brutalist facade and a terrazzo main staircase.

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However, the cell wing of the building has been demolished to make way for a car park for the offices.

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Inside the eerie cells at Sunderland's Gilbridge Police Station ahead of buildin...
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Laura Lloyd, Head of Portfolio at The Hanro Group, said there’s been interest from a range of potential clients keen to take up units in the heart of the city’s ongoing regeneration.

Ongoing works on The Yard at the former Gilbridge police station.
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"We’ve had a real mix of enquiries, anything from accountants and recruitment to call centre operators,” she said. “It’s such a great location, right in the centre of the new CBD (central business district) and it’s slightly more affordable for smaller, newer businesses who aren’t looking for huge HQ premises

"It’s a really flexible space which can be split into offices, anything up from 500 sq ft. It’s been really interesting to see it transform from March to now. Before, it was very cellular, no pun intended, but what we’ve done is to really open up the space.

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"A lot of people knock down and rebuild buildings, but there was nothing structurally wrong with this building, it was really solid, so we’ve done all we can to work with its existing features.”

A team of 45 have been working on the building works and project manager John Wardropper, who lives in Sunderland himself, said it’s great to be a part of a project that’s helping transform the city centre.

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Ongoing works on The Yard at the former Gilbridge police station.

"Sunderland is seeing so much investment and regeneration at the minute and it’s great to be part of the changing skyline,” said John from Brims, the firm that also worked on the construction of the nearby Fire Station Auditorium.

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The £3.5m transformation project has been helped by The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP) who has invested almost £850,000 from government’s Getting Building Fund to support the works.

The Yard is part of the Riverside Sunderland development led by Sunderland City Council. The city centre office building will complement additional commercial spaces that are being developed in the area, including Legal and General-backed Maker and Faber.

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Other major additions a stone’s throw from The Yard is the new city library and cultural attraction Culture House, which will be built on the old Luciano’s and Annabel’s site and the footpath leading through Keel Square which will link up with the new pedestrian bridge joining Riverside and Sheepfolds.

Next year will also see the arrival of The Botanist and a new bar from The Vaulkhard Group in Keel Square, with two other new bars due to be announced for the ground floor of the new £18m Holiday Inn.

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:: For more information on office space at The Yard, contact Bradley Hall on 0191 563 4242 or Sunderland BID on 0191 722 1002.

Ongoing works on The Yard at the former Gilbridge police station.
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Ongoing works on The Yard at the former Gilbridge police station.
How the site looked in 2021
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Ongoing works on The Yard at the former Gilbridge police station.
Ongoing works on The Yard at the former Gilbridge police station.
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The cell wing has been demolished
The top floor is nearing completion
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Views from the top floor