Council was in 'advanced stage' of selling Simpson Street School building before fire as drone footage reveals scale of damage

Council bosses say they are still hopeful a deal to sell a fire-ravaged former Sunderland shoool can go ahead.

Wednesday, 29th January 2020, 3:44 pm
Updated Wednesday, 29th January 2020, 6:52 pm

The former Simpson Street School, at Deptford Sunderland, was damaged yesterday evening.

Firefighters arrived at the scene at 6.19pm and used four jets, an aerial ladder platform and thermal imaging cameras, to bring the fire at the Grade II listed building under control.

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Damage to the roof is clearly visible

Two engines from Farringdon, one engine from Sunderland Central, one engine from Marley Park and one engine from Gateshead, worked together to put out the fire.

It is understood that the roof of the building has been damaged. However, the council remains hopeful that plans to regenerate the site will still move forward, once assessments of the scale of damage have concluded this week.

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Coun Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “Simpson Street School is a stunning building, and the sentiment from residents when this fire broke out last night reflected the affection that exists for it. People want to see this building regenerated and that has been our aim for some time.

Fire crews were at the former Simpsn Street school for five hours

“The council has been in negotiations to sell the building for a number of weeks, and these had reached an advanced stage with an investor looking to move forward with stunning plans to bring the school back to life, which they were looking to move through planning processes imminently. We remain confident that we can still move forward and agree an exciting new future for this much-loved building.”

Investigations into the cause of the fire are ongoing. CCTV and links to the council’s security team – as part of its vacant building procedures - were in place on site at the time the blaze started. Works are being carried out to ensure the building is secure and that no further damage is caused following the fire.

Coun Miller added: “Our focus is on quickly assessing the situation and ensuring that we are in a position to conclude negotiations which will return this building to its former glory. We will share more as soon as we can.”