From a Guggenheim for Sunderland to a Gateshead-style 'Tesco town' - more of your thoughts on the Vaux site

The first building is due to open on the Vaux site, and plans are already in for the next.

Friday, 8th March 2019, 9:31 am
Updated Friday, 8th March 2019, 9:58 am
How Vaux might look in the future

It's a welcome sight after years of frustration over the prime development land left behind by the former Vaux brewery.

THE BEAM office complex could welcome its first tenants by April, a planning application has been submitted and funds earmarked to build a new civic centre and public sector hub to replace the crumbling Sunderland City Council HQ, and development partnership Siglion has released a dazzling video of how the area might look in future.

How Vaux might look in the future

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These two developments would still leave space for many other projects. Siglion's vision for the wider Vaux development also aiming to provide 19 buildings including office, hotel, restaurant and exhibition centre uses, parking and public realm spaces.

Many are pleased to see work well underway, whilst almost 20 years too late. But others are unhappy about the vision for the site, sceptical about its success or disgruntled about the cost of a new civic centre and the use of Vaux land to build it - and people have been continuing to have their say.

Commenting on our Facebook page, Steven Logan even suggested Tesco should have been allowed to press ahead with its own plans for the Vaux site, and pointed to the Tesco-led redevelopment of Gateshead town centre.

"The Trinity Square development should have been on here from Tesco, with the Vue cinema £4.99 , and Nando’s and other shops apartments. It was better than a civic centre. .... putting a civic centre there is a joke."

The billboard with Tesco's plans for Vaux which once stood next to the site

Tesco had planned to build its own mixed-use development on the Vaux site, a much larger version of the Trinity Square development, complete with hundreds of apartments, office space, a hotel and other shopping units as well as a large store.

However, Sunderland's leaders had a different vision and wanted more for the site than a "Tesco town".

Years of wrangles with Tesco held up development until the supermarket chain finally agreed to sell up in 2010 and build a store on the run-down Roker Retail Park instead, which also saw a revamp of the tired shopping area.

Other commentors had more ambitios aspirations for Vaux.

The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. Picture from Pixabay.

On the issue of replacing the civic centre, David Jackson said: "I would prefer the council to renovate an existing building in the city centre.

"The money saved could then be used on other projects such as a brand new train station and a new building in the Vaux site for exhibitions aimed at attracting outside investment (similar to the V&A in Dundee or Guggenheim in Bilbao).

"This would be a more forward thinking investment for the city and future generations."

"Exhibition centre uses" are included in Siglion's vision, so David might get to see his dream become a reality yet.

The V&A in Dundee. Picture by PA

Kevin Shaw agreed with the council that the civic centre has to go, and has his own ideas on what that land should be used for.

He said: "The civic centre needs to go, it’s falling to bits. I’d love to see the site used for a new, modern railway station with parking and a proper taxi rank, it’s the perfect location for me."