Evening economy key to £100m Sunderland revamp, says man charged with making it work

BIG PLANS: Siglion chief executive John Seager.
BIG PLANS: Siglion chief executive John Seager.
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STADIUM of Light season ticker holder John Seager wants to make Sunderland a Premier League city.

The new chief executive of Siglion – the joint venture company set up by Sunderland City Council and Carillion to oversee a £100million-plus programme to transform the city – cannot wait to get started in his role.

He wants to “reinvigorate” the city centre and boost its evening economy.

Speaking exclusively to the Echo, he said: “I have been a season ticket holder since 2000, even before I moved to the North East.

“I got sucked in by the Peter Reid era – who wouldn’t?

“I lived in Cleadon from 2001 to 2011, so Sunderland has been my city centre for 10 years.”

Siglion is supported by regeneration specialist Igloo, and John believes the company’s approach will transform Sunderland and especially the critical Vaux brewery site.

“It is about looking at a sustainable way of developing a site that creates a place that generates economic benefit in the long-term,” he said

“It is not just about a development coming in, making a profit and leaving.”

Boosting Sunderland city centre’s evening economy is a key aim of the city council’s economic masterplan, and John believes Vaux could be a catalyst for a new culture.

“Another aspect is about creating somewhere that people want to enjoy, to play is perhaps the way to look at it, with some recreational space that draws people in, to create a site for people to work, but which does not just close at 5pm.

“There is a 24-hour culture there that people come in for the evenings and at weekends.

“If you look at the types of businesses that existed in the city centre 10 or 15 years ago, the difference is marked.

“The intention is to create a place in the city centre that will attract back the companies that have moved away, and encourage new ones to start, to reinvigorate the city centre and reinvigorate the economy to create a place where companies will want to be.”