BUILDING work on the former Vaux Brewery site could start by the end of the year, Sunderland City Council’s top officer has revealed.
Chief executive Dave Smith told a meeting of the North East Chamber of Commerce’s Sunderland group that it was hoping to submit a planning application for the first building on the site within months.
Developing the site would be a prime objective of Siglion, the new joint venture company set up by the council and construction from Carillion, with support from regeneration expert Igloo, Mr Smith told a meeting at the Stadium of Light.
“The work in St Mary’s Way is virtually complete now, and all the services have gone in on the Vaux site.”
It was anticipated a planning application for the first building on the site – which Mr Smith described as a ‘50,000 square feet Grade A office complex development’ – would be submitted by the summer, as the first phase a new central business district.
“If that goes well, they should be able to break ground by the end of the year and complete the first development by the end of 2016,” said Mr Smith.
The challenge was to create accommodation that would both retain existing businesses in the city and attract new ones to Wearside.
“Unless we achieve that, we don’t have a sustainable offer in the market,” said Mr Smith.
“It is absolutely critical for us that we focus on the opportunities around the city centre.”
Vaux was integral to the regeneration of the city centre, with the supply of top-class office space in the heart of Sunderland severely limited.
“Our ambition around the Vaux site is to create a Doxford Park, but in the middle of the city centre,” said Mr Smith.
Development of Vaux would be complemented by the new Keel Square, which is nearing completion on the other side of St Mary’s Way and which ‘has been lacking in a city of our size for some considerable time’.
“It will look absolutely beautiful when it is finished, with a real opportunity to use that space for all sorts of events or as an informal meeting place right in the heart of the city centre,” said Mr Smith.
“But it will not work well if it is not supported by other developments.”