'˜Nissan trail' idea to help boost Sunderland city centre
An enterprise arcade, '˜Nissan trail' and street rangers are among new plans to help boost Sunderland city centre, a business boss has revealed.
Sunderland’s Business Improvement District (BID) represents hundreds of businesses in Sunderland, with 430 levy payers generating a £660k-per-year pot to channel into events, promotion and improvements.
BID-backed events have included the city’s pop-up ice rink, Alice in Wonderland-themed ‘Festival of Fun’, Sunniside Live, Chinese New Year and Restaurant Week.
This week, Sunderland City Council’s (SCC) Economic and Prosperity Scrutiny Committee heard new plans from head of business operations at the BID, Sharon Appleby.
With the organisation’s contract coming to an end this year, businesses are set to vote on whether to extend it for another five years in an election this November.
Future plans range from new street rangers offering support to businesses to using vacant shop lots to create an “enterprise arcade” to house and promote new traders.
“We’re not looking at them as shops but as spaces that can be used for a range of things,” Ms Appleby told the committee at Sunderland Civic Centre.
“It’s not a silver bullet and it’s not going to happen like that.”
Another plan included working with Nissan to celebrate the history of the company in the city centre with a ‘trail’, murals and installations.
Ms Appleby told the committee that she wasn’t sure when it would happen but that Nissan was interested.
“It’s a long-term play for me and in the early stages but we’re developing that for them,” she said.
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Coun Barry Curran welcomed the idea and told the committee “I feel Nissan probably owes us something as a city.
“They have a lot of apprentices there and could have an event on in Keel Square about technology and the engineering side,” he added.
“It would really interest a lot of people. For the people who can’t go see the factory, why don’t they bring it to the city centre.”
In response to councillor questions, the business boss said free city-wide parking was “not the answer” but that work could be done to launch parking promotions for events such as Restaurant Week.
She added that a new business plan aimed to support all city traders through promotions, support and partnership work.
She added: “We need to make sure they’re taking the opportunities that are coming in terms of the changing high street and make sure they don’t wither on the vine.”
The election for Sunderland BID will be run by Sunderland City Council between November 1- 28 this year.
For more information or to give feedback to the BID, visit: www.sunderlandbid.co.uk
Chris Binding , Local Democracy Reporting Service