Bid to turn historic Sunderland college building into student accommodation

The old Monkwearmouth College on Swan Street.
The old Monkwearmouth College on Swan Street.
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A GRADE II listed former college building could be given a new lease of life as a halls of residence.

Plans have been submitted to Sunderland City Council to change the use of the former Monkwearmouth College Building in Swan Street, Southwick.

A private firm, which has commissioned Mario Minchella Architects to generate the designs, hopes to renovate the property and turn it into 68 en-suite bedrooms for students.

Two large communal lounge and dining rooms and a kitchen area would also be set up in the building’s existing grand halls.

The redevelopment of the building, which was built in 1925, would signal another step forward in the regeneration of Southwick.

It would follow the arrival of superstore Sainsbury’s and new housing estates, with a Londis shop in the Sun Inn and a large-scale supported housing scheme in the pipeline.

Documents accompanying the planning application state: “The existing Grade II listed building provides an excellent envelope within which to create such high quality accommodation, and it is the client’s intention to keep works to a minimum.”

The plans also state an intention to “complement the conversion with a landscaping scheme which could form a condition of any future approval”.

Ways into the building will be maintained, with a one-way system operating from the entrance gate at the west end of the site to an exit gate at the east end.

The current 41 car parking spaces will be reduced to 39 to provide secure cycle storage, which the proposals state meets the council’s criteria of one parking space per six students, plus one for a warden.

The building was identified as a desirable location for student accommodation in part due to its proximity to the University of Sunderland’s campuses.

It is just under one mile to the Sir Tom Cowie campus, while the City Campus would be easily accessible using public transport.

The building was awarded Grade II Listed status by English Heritage in 1994, which means it is “nationally important and of special interest”.

The building was last used as a community venue which hosted a football club, dance school and as a based for artists, but it closed in January after it struggled to find the cash to keep running.