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Fears over 'frequent' crime and anti-social behaviour around Sunderland's former Civic Centre site

Crime and anti-social behaviour have become ‘frequent’ near Sunderland's former Civic Centre since its closure, a local worker has claimed.

Monday, 16th May 2022, 4:55 am

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The man, who works on Grange Crescent near the site says there has been an increase in criminal activity on the former civic centre, off Burdon Road after plans to demolish the old base to make way for a housing development were approved.

The civic site has been earmarked for housing for some time as part of plans to move local authority staff to a purpose-built headquarters at City Hall on the former Vaux site.

Rising maintenance bills and running costs were some of the reasons behind the decision to vacate the ageing Burdon Road base, which opened in 1970 and won a number of awards for its design.

The former Sunderland Civic Centre has seen 'frequent' criminal activity according to a local business.

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But one man told the Echo that he has observed at least two drug deals taking place recently from his office and had his car broken into.

He said: “The site has become a target for criminal activity since it’s been derelict and it’s quite frustrating because even the planning documents specifically identified the possibility of the site becoming a focus for criminality and anti-social behaviour.

"I’ve had my car broken into along with a colleague and it feels as though nothing is being done to stop any of this.”

In a Committee report in April this year, a Northumbria Police Designing Out Crime officer stated that: “The demolition works, amount of open space within the development and the site’s proximity to the City Centre could attract anti-social behaviour and criminal activity and it is recommended that the developer adopts enhanced security measures during site works and seeks a Secured By Design accreditation for the completed development.”

A worker's car was broken into on the former civic centre site.

The man says following the break in on Thursday, April 28, three PCSOs attended the scene.

A Northumbria Police spokesperson said: “We are investigating two reports of theft from motor vehicles in the Grange Crescent area of Sunderland on the afternoon of April 28.

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“An offender broke into the parked vehicles and stole a coat from inside one of the cars, before making off on a bicycle in the direction of the Civic Centre. Enquiries are ongoing to trace those responsible.

“Anyone with information can contact police via the ‘Tell Us Something’ page of our website or by calling 101 quoting log NP-20220428-0548.”

Planning proposals from Vistry Partnerships Ltd aim to bulldoze the site, its car park and associated structures to make way for up to 265 residential dwellings/apartments.

The worker added: “I don’t think it’s being taken seriously so I just want to raise awareness of the issues that are blighting local residents and businesses.”

Sunderland City Council has said demolition of the building will proceed ‘imminently’.

A spokesperson said: “We know disused sites can become a magnet for anti-social behaviour, which is why we sought to move forward with development as quickly as possible after vacating the former Civic Centre site.

"We’re pleased that demolition of the building will proceed imminently, paving the way for a bright future for this part of the city centre.”