Breathing new life into prime city sites

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SUNDERLAND City Council today launched a landmark public and private partnership to help create the city’s largest-ever redevelopment project over the next 20 years.

The authority is seeking a joint venture strategic investment partner from the private sector, to transform a number of important development sites across Wearside to support housing delivery and employment and ensure economic revitalisation.

The Sunderland Delivery Vehicle (SDV) will also contribute an investment portfolio of about 400 property investment assets.

Councillor Paul Watson, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “This initiative will spark a new chapter of citywide regeneration, creating important new places to live and work, and generating excellent value for residents and taxpayers.

“The SDV will invigorate key areas of the city and offer new opportunities for employment, housing, shopping and culture.”

Coun Watson said the private sector partner for the project will share the council’s vision for effective, long-term regeneration across the city, and be able to provide evidence of robust funding and a track record of large-scale development delivery.

“This joint venture means we can breathe new life into under-used publicly owned land in prime sites for development,” he said.

“We have scrutinised our assets and decided which from our broad portfolio could best be brought forward to maximise their potential.

“Through this joint delivery structure we will be actively involved as a partner in their future management and growth.”

The move comes as the city is celebrating Transport Minister Patrick McLoughlin signing off papers on the new landmark bridge over the River Wear, which could create or support thousands of jobs.

Malcolm Page, Sunderland City Council’s executive director of commercial and corporate services, said the local authority and its partners were continuing to invest significantly in the city to drive regeneration.

He said once the private sector investment partner has been selected and terms agreed, the SDV will generate income returns to the council and the private sector partner over the long term.

It will also help to fulfil the aims of the council’s 15-year Economic Masterplan by injecting pace to the delivery of citywide growth and regeneration.

The joint venture will bring forward the city’s priority projects and leverage private sector funding and investment into Sunderland.

Mr Page said: “We will select a partner who can deliver our objectives to the consistently high standards we demand over a 15 to 20 year commitment.

“The SDV offers an outstanding opportunity to bring about change through developments with the size and scale to create a permanent, positive impact on the city and the wider region.”

Jonathan Bull-Diamond, director of development at Jones Lang LaSalle, who is leading the establishment of the SDV, added: “Sunderland Council is adopting an innovative and long term approach to facilitate the funding and investment necessary to kick start a number of key strategic development sites, whilst sharing in future profits and further catalysing citywide economic activity.”

The council aims to appoint a private sector investment partner by mid 2013. It will be advertising the opportunity in the Official Journal of the European Union this week.

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