Broken dreams and disappointments - Sunderland's failed projects, oddball schemes and artists' impressions that never made it into reality

The North East's highest building, giant clapping hands on the skyline, an enormous horn booming out SAFC match commentary.

Wednesday, 6th March 2019, 10:36 am
Updated Saturday, 9th March 2019, 3:08 pm

Here we look at some of the wonderful and weird projects which were planned for Sunderland, but never happened for one reason or another - as well as some of the schemes which did go ahead, but ran into difficulties. Here's hoping Sunderland has more luck in the future!

It was supposed to be the tallest building in the North East, a 328ft 33-storey skyscraper housing apartments and a cocktail bar with views over the city. The project hit difficulties when the developer went into administration.
A covered square with shops, restaurants, cafes, bars and other leisure facilities was planned to sit beneath the tower, in an overall project would have creating 1,800 jobs. But it met the same fate as its planned neighbour.

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A giant 40ft horn on legs was planned to relay commentary and highlights from SAFC home matches at the Stadium of Light Metro station, estimated to cost 200,000. Plans were put on the backburner in 2001.
Plans for a 130million-pound gateway to the city centre with a 124-bed hotel, 124 apartments and office space were caught up in the economic downturn.
The next proposal for Farringdon Row was a new complex replacing Sunderland Magistrates Court and creating a crown court for the city. After years of hold-ups, the Government announced in 2018 funding would not go ahead.
Another idea for the Stadium of Light area which never took off was was a red-and-white footpath from the Metro station to the ground, reminiscent of the Yellow Brick Road in the Wizard of Oz.
A Las-Vegas style super-casino providing 2,000 jobs was touted for land next to the Stadium of Light. But the Governments Casino Advisory Panel ruled Middlesbrough a more suitable location for a super-casino in the North East.
A giant indoor real-snow ski slope was planned to be the centre of the Stadium Village development around the Stadium of Light. However, no private developer was interested in moving the project forward.
Top designers were challenged to come up with giant artworks to jazz up the Sunderland Empires rather functional-looking flytower, which was installed to handle the sets needed for top West End shows.
...while it succeeded in bringing some of the worlds best productions to the city, and with them thousands of visitors, council chiefs wanted to give the nuts-and-bolts end of the theatre a vibrant look.
...giant clapping hands, a gargantuan sparkling cloud, wallpaperesque patterns and triffid-like tentacles were among the curious ideas put forward, which were then put to a public vote.
...but none became a reality as the plans were quietly shelved amid the gloomy financial times.
This was the vision presented for a mixed-use development on Vaux. But years of wrangling with Tesco and the economic downturn took their toll. A new City Hall, offices, hotel, restaurant and exhibition centre uses are now planned
Set up to spearhead Sunderlands regeneration in 2002, the arc worked to acquire key development sites and bring in public and private sector investment to push ahead with city leaders ambitious vision for the city.
...while it primed four key sites for regeneration and attracted millions in investment, lengthy wrangles with Tesco over the Vaux site and onset of the credit crunch hampered its work. It was dismantled in 2011.
The 22-tonne floating artwork was dogged with technical problems almost as soon as it was unveiled in the Wear. Vandals knocked out its power cables, and corrosion caused one of its connecting bolts to break.
A new ferry service for the River Wear, linking up heritage sites and visitor attractions, was proposed for the city. Transport executive Nexus agreed to a feasibility study, but it was concluded such a project would be too costly to set up and run.
Had it not been for the era of austerity, this is how the new bridge would have looked. Government cuts meant cash was diverted from the bridge to other services. But the Northern Spire we got instead is still a sight to behold.
Dubbed the Iron Dandelion, it suffered a series of faults, vandal attacks and strong winds snapping its head off. It was removed in 2000, but is remembered by an installation during the Sunderland Illuminations.
Heritage campaigners hoping to bring Sunderlands most historic ship home to Wearside as a visitor attraction and community project lost out to rival bidders from Down Under, and the clipper went to Australia instead.