New plans to transform the former Vaux Brewery site have been given the thumbs-up by Echo readers.
As reported yesterday, councillors have given the green light for work to start on the site, which has stood empty for 17 years.
Offices, shops, restaurants, hotels and homes are part of the ambitious wider project for the 5.5-hectare site, which will also have public spaces with views of the Wear and its bridges.
Members of Sunderland City Council’s development control (South Sunderland) sub-committee unanimously agreed to back the application by developers Siglion’s when they met on Tuesday.
And in an online poll, 82% of Echo readers who took part said they were happy with the plans.
Siglion say a striking 60,000sq ft office building, which will look out along the River Wear and sea, will be key to bringing in business.
Commenting on our Facebook page, Andrew Watson said he could see the value in that.
He said: “Offices aren’t so bad, when you think of the domino effects: Office worker wants lunch - goes into Sunderland City Centre to buy it keeping people in jobs etc.
“Office worker wants dress for night out, stays in Sunderland to buy it. Keeping people in jobs etc. Office workers want pints after work, so they stay in Sunderland after.
“The one thing that Sunderland has lacked for many years is a core base of white collar workers as this is a key demographic for a thriving city centre.
“People saying its a shame that the Vaux site remained empty for years have a valid point but a bigger oversight was not locating some/all the Doxford call centres on Vaux initially. That would - and still would - transform the city centre. Naturally that can’t happen now unless new companies are enticed into the site with low business rates.”
Nick Scott agreed, adding: “We have no foot fall of the white collar worker. This could all change, new pubs, shops working spaces which means more spending in Sunderland.
“Come on Sunderland let’s move with the times and make our city great once more.”
Anthony Longford added: “People need to realise that shops, restaurants and bars are not the answer unless you have people to spend money in them. This is why creating outstanding office accommodation will encourage big businesses to come to Sunderland, invest and bring hundreds of staff with them who will shop, socialise and spend money in the City. Then businesses can expand and breathe new life into Sunderland.”
Brian Jackson posted: “I understand people’s frustrations about the past but no matter what we do we can not change it. We are all Sunderland people and we all want the best for the city, let’s stay positive and welcome the overdue development.”
Michael McCardle wrote: “Exactly what Sunderland needs more people working in the city centre spending money which will lead to better shops. Just get it done Siglion.”
David Owen said: “If there are no business to use these offices then it will simply be tidy empty wasteland. If we can get the businesses in this may just turn the city centres fortunes around.”
Siglion chief executive John Seager said: “We are excited to be finally beginning our work to breathe new life into the Vaux site, which has been empty for almost 17 years since the brewery closed.
“This is such a focal point for Sunderland and its position at the entrance to the city centre is hugely important to how people coming into Sunderland perceive the city.
“The first phase will create a superb office development, providing the city with some of the best quality working space to be found anywhere in the North East.”
Irene Lucas CBE, council chief executive, said: “The go-ahead for work to start at Vaux really is an important moment for the future development of the city.
“This flagship location is one of the first things people see when they come into the city centre and we’re excited that work can now begin on providing this important location with the kind of development that reflects the modern, forward-looking city that Sunderland is.”
The wider plan includes ideas to develop a destination restaurant set partially in the cliff-face and about 200 homes with riverside views.
The site will be connected with a pedestrian access to St Mary’s Way and the development of a new pathway along the cliff-edge.