13 things you said about Sunderland's former Joplings store being turned into student flats
Readers have given a mixed reaction to the news that the Joplings building in Sunderland is on the way to being turned into student flats.
The former department store, in John Street, has stood empty for almost seven years after the business went into administration.
As we reported yesterday, work is now under way to transform four floors of the building into student accommodation, which should be ready by this autumn.
And while the move to bring one of the city's most iconic buildings back into use has been welcomed by many people, not everyone is happy.
Thomas Howe wrote on our Facebook page: "It’s gonna be great to see the old building back in use again, along with retail space at the bottom (which could be a chain we are missing from Sunderland?). Looking forward to seeing it completed."
John Lamb said: "All students are net contributors to the wealth of a city, bringing youthful vitality with them, closely followed by eateries, bars, coffee shops et al. Their parents and friends often visit them too, bringing in more money to spend."
Colin Noble pointed out the wider benefits: "We need people in the city centre. Get students in, get the offices back in the city centre and these people will spend in local bars, restaurants, etc. This will help the local businesses improve and in turn (hopefully) bring in more ‘out of towners’."
Dave Palmer was similarly positive: "This will help create more footfall for the bars and restaurants of Sunniside, so that area should liven up a bit."
Alison Burnell agreed: "The building has been a blight in the city for years, rat and pigeon infested, and the back lane behind was awash with rodents. Shame on the then-owners, as they were in no hurry to rectify the eyesore. So it will be a pleasing sight to have the building re-developed. I do not mind students, as they contribute to the city centre economy."
Alexander Neromiliotis gave an overseas student's view of the move: "I came to Sunderland for a masters course in 2015. I paid cash. In my five years studying in the UK I have spent more than 200k euros of my family's money in the local economy and in return I took 2 degrees and lovely memories. This is what foreign students offer. Its like me saying 'What do all those foreign tourists offer in my country, enjoying my sun and then leave?' Duh. They help the local economy."
Megan Thompson added: "Even some British students re-locate to the area during or after they qualify, me being one of them. These people are then working here and spending here. We have a lot of foreign students and they are a great boost for our economy."
Daniella Hanson said: "How can increasing the footfall into our city centre be a bad thing? Increasing the city centre population is a positive for all retailers, small businesses etc. Students are a huge influx into our city centre's income and what you would rather it’s stood empty doing nothing and being an eyesore?"
Kevin Shaw said: "Anything that increases people living or working in the city centre is a good thing."
Marlon Dagg wrote: "I couldn't care less how the space is used in all honesty, but it isn’t a pound shop or vape store so that’s a positive surely?"
But those who are less than convinced were led by Shaun Parker, who wrote: "As a current student of Sunderland University I can say with some certainty that this is a waste of time.
"The condition of the flats will go down quite quickly, as most younger uni students really don't care for being house proud. With the cuts going on within Sunderland Uni the number of students will drop over the coming years, and frankly for such major investment that doesn't benefit the people of Sunderland,it really is disappointing.
"Hopefully they'll get decent students to live there, not the kind who just want to go on the lash every night."
Ian Bailes agreed, commenting:"Once again, another poor redevelopment decision by Sunderland Council. Fill the place with young foreign students who will treat the place with no respect. They’ll get their degrees and qualifications here and then fly back to their own country to reap their rewards. Tell me what that brings to Sunderland in terms of future sustainability?"
Elaine Booth is another who's unconvinced: "Not what the city needs! More effort should've been made to keep it a department store. Sunderland used to be such a vibrant place for shopping. Housing should be kept to outskirts."
* Will turning Joplings into student accommodation help breathe new life into Sunderland city centre? Email us your views here.