Planners recommend rejection for £18million arena and retail plan

James Ramsbotham, Mike Roseberry and James Ridings at Rainton Meadows Arena.
James Ramsbotham, Mike Roseberry and James Ridings at Rainton Meadows Arena.
Have your say

Planners have recommended councillors turn down an application for an £18million redevelopment of an arena and creation of shops on Wearside, saying it has “the potential to cause more harm to the city”.

Roseberry Leisure is hoping to build a new 1,400 capacity venue to replace Rainton Meadows Arena in Houghton and also a shopping area.

Companies such as supermarket chain Aldi, Home Bargains, Pets at Home and Costa have already committed to units should plans get the green light.

But ahead of a meeting where the proposals will be discussed by councillors, planners have recommended that council members do not approve the scheme.

Reasons cited in the report include potential traffic problems, the effect on trade the new site could have on Houghton and Hetton town centres and the environmental impact.

The document reads: “Whilst the applicant has sought to place significant weight on the employment creation benefits of the application proposal and the social inclusion benefits brought about by the geographical location of the application site in relation to nearby areas suffering from high levels of deprivation, account will need to be taken of the harm that the proposal would bring to Houghton Town Centre and Hetton Local Centre, diminishing the role that these centres play in the economic and social life of the communities they serve.”

It added: “For the reasons set out in this report, the application is considered to have the potential to cause more harm to the city than generating its perceived benefits and as such it is recommended that the application be refused.”

Under the plans the arena building, built in 1992 as an indoor cricket venue, would be rebuilt several hundreds yards away to the north on the same site to make room for the shops and could accommodate up to 1,400 people.

Bosses say that 375 jobs will be created should the plans get the go-ahead, with the proposal document estimating if built the site could generate 250,000 visitors to the area each year, with potential for an additional 25,000 hotel room nights to premises close by.

Mike Roseberry, of Roseberry Leisure, said earlier this week: “The funding for this project is all there if we are lucky enough to get planning permission and hopefully we could on site by the end of this year.”

The plans are set to be heard at a meeting of the Sunderland City Council’s Development and Control Sub-Commitee on Tuesday at 5.45pm.