Sunderland’s Tesco deal moving forward

Sundelalnd Council Leader Counc. Paul Watson on the site of the new Tesco, Supermarket on the Roker Retail Park.
Sundelalnd Council Leader Counc. Paul Watson on the site of the new Tesco, Supermarket on the Roker Retail Park.
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ORDERS to seize land needed to create a mammoth superstore and retail park have been granted by the council – and could help create about 800 jobs.

Developers are gearing up to build a gigantic Tesco store in Monkwearmouth and new retail units on the rundown Sunderland Retail Park.

City leaders say the development will bring hundreds of jobs and much-needed regeneration to the area.

The project has also been seen as key to unlocking the long-running deadlock over the Vaux site.

Planning permission for the scheme has already been granted – but the land must be assembled in order for it to go ahead.

Mountview Securities owns most of the retail park, but existing businesses must be persuaded to give up their interest on the site.

David Allan, the senior Labour councillor responsible for resources, said: “Negotiations are still ongoing with all parties – those being MacDonald’s, Farm Foods and Blockbuster – and we’re hopeful that the negotiations will be successful in the end.

“However, to ensure the project is successful we still need to have the compulsory purchase powers in place should we need them if negotiations fail.”

The Town and Country Planning Act gives councils the power to acquire land compulsorily to allow the assembly of a site for private sector development.

Sunderland City Council’s ruling cabinet has now agreed to authorise the powers to allow for “comprehensive” redevelopment of the Sunderland Retail Park site.

Officers said negotiations with owners and occupiers of the required land had so far not led to an agreement.

Their report, put before cabinet, read: “Without the Compulsory Purchase Order and the (development) scheme, it is likely that Sunderland Retail Park would continue to fail and that economic, social and environmental conditions in the area would worsen.”

The development scheme will see the bowling alley – which is still open for the time being – and former Reg Vardy car dealership bulldozed to make way for the 16,140 sq m superstore.

Four smaller units will be built. McDonald’s will remain, and the unit containing Farmfoods and Blockbuster will get a makeover.

The scheme will include 900 car parking spaces, many below the supermarket, and a number of electric vehicle charging points.

It also involves improvements to the surrounding highway network, including a massive overhaul of the Wheatsheaf gyratory system.

Tesco will foot the bill for the scheme, which had been thrown into doubt in the Government’s transport spending review.