A NEW urban park is a step closer to reality as the demolition of some of the last houses overshadowing it was approved.
The area of Hendon has already seen a number of properties cleared, including in Salem Street, Amberley Street and Harrogate Street.
Now 11 properties in Salem Street South, belonging to Tees Valley Housing, are set to be demolished too, after planners at Sunderland City Council gave their seal of approval.
The site will be levelled and seeded, and the park will be created on land belonging to New Deal for Communities partnership Back on the Map, Tees Valley Housing and Home Housing, adjacent to the former terrace.
The new community space could be complete as early as this autumn, and Back on the Map is in discussions with Groundwork North East and exploring funding sources.
It is hoped the park will feature play areas, wildflower gardens, seating areas and kick-about areas.
Hendon ward councillor Barbara McClennan said: “This is the heartland of the original Sunderland. As such, it is vital to have the same facilities the newer and more modern parts of the city have.
“Families here are extremely settled. They like to live in the area. We have to make sure that as they grow up and leave their parents’ home, and have their own families to support, that there is adequate facilities for all, or we risk breaking down the community and its inner strength.”
Coun McClennan added: “The one thing we haven’t got is open spaces.
“A bit of greenery and a bit of colour is good for the psychological welfare of residents.”
Fellow Hendon councillor Thomas Martin added: “My hope is that the urban park reunites the local community and gives it something to focus on.
“It will help the area come together. It is very important, as it will give them a sense of identity.”
Jen McKevitt, trust director of Back on the Map, said she was reluctant to refer to the area as a park, but called it a community open space.
“We are delighted that Tees Valley Housing has supported the clearing of what has been an eyesore for local people for a long time, and we have worked in partnership with them.”
He added: “It’s great that everybody wants to come together to see it put to good use for local people.”
Back on the Map will be holding a “Hendon Together” fun day on the cleared site, off Harrogate street and Amberley Street, on August 8, from noon until 3pm.
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