19 years and counting: The saga of Sunderland’s Vaux Brewery site

The former Vaux site under construction.
The former Vaux site under construction.

News that work has ‘ceased with immediate effect’ on the former Vaux Brewery site in Sunderland after construction giant Carillion went into liquidation will come as no surprise to many people.

Uncertainty now faces the work and other regeneration projects across Wearside after Carillion’s collapse under £1.5billion worth of debt.

What to do with the former brewery site - and how to bring it about - has been occupying our finest civic minds for 19 years - and counting.

Here’s a timeline of the Vaux site saga:

July 1999: Vaux Brewery closes with the loss of 700 jobs, bringing more than 150 years of brewing history to an end.

2001: Tesco buys the 26-acre site. The deal sparks a decade of legal rows.

2002: Sunderland Arc is formed to regenerate the city. It goes on to spend £75million of taxpayers’ cash on sites across Wearside.

March 2010: Sunderland City Council enters a joint agreement as it works to acquire and redevelop the site.

February 2011: The council announces it owns the land after buying it from Tesco for an undisclosed sum and following an agreement with One North East and the Homes and Community Agency.

Spring 2011: Sunderland Arc closes after council and Government funding of £1million is withdrawn as austerity cuts hit. Its outgoing boss credits the organisation with preventing the land from being used by Tesco.

June 2012: Pre-planning proposals for a rethink of St Mary’s Way and Livingstone Road are approved with the aim of making the Vaux site more attractive and helping it handle more traffic.

March 2013: Funding of £2.25million is granted by the European Regional Development Fund. The cash helps remodel the roads and create Keel Square.

June 2013: Tesco opens its Extra store in Roker after it opted to redevelop the ex-bowling alley site in place of the Vaux land.

November 2014: Siglion, a partnership between Carillion and Sunderland City Council and managed by Igloo Regeneration, is established to bring on the development of the Vaux site among others.

January 2015: Then-city council chief executive Dave Smith outlines the vision for Vaux : “Our ambition around the Vaux site is to create a Doxford Park, but in the middle of the city centre.”

April 2016: Council bosses approve plans for the first phase of the development.

December 2016: Work finally starts on-site.

October 2017: The first building reaches a major landmark, as the final panes of glass are installed.

January 2018: Work is halted indefinitely after Carillion collapses into liquidation.