Plans approved for viewing platform at Sunderland’s Northern Spire bridge

The Northern Spire bridge is set to open this summer.
The Northern Spire bridge is set to open this summer.
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Visitors looking for unique sights of Sunderland’s Northern Spire bridge will be able to use a specially-built viewing platform under new council plans.

The new bridge across the River Wear – which boasts a 105-metre central A-frame pylon –  is set to open to traffic this summer, with finishing works under way.

On July 3, Sunderland City Council’s (SCC) area development control sub-committee backed plans for a plaque, footpath and viewing platform at the  north west side of the bridge.

The new access footpath would rise from the recently realigned Timber Beach Road up to the viewing platform providing views of the southern side of the towering structure.

A report states that around six trees classed as “low quality and value” will be removed to make way for the development.

A plinth holding the information plaque will also be one-metre high at the most, a report adds.

Leader of SCC’s Liberal Democrats group, Coun Niall Hodson, welcomed the plans but called for assurance that the sign would fit the development site.

“I like these signs and wish there were more of them around the city but it does look a little flimsy,” he told the committee at Sunderland Civic Centre.

“Is there anything to ensure us that it will be substantial and long-lasting.”

Cabinet member for housing and regeneration, Coun Stuart Porthouse, also asked “who makes the decision” about the plaque’s content.

Principal planner for development control, Toni Sambridge, confirmed the final decision rested with Northern Spire Project Board.

She added it would aim to explore the wider context of the bridge and the past use of the River Wear.

In response to Coun Hodson, she  said quality materials used for the plaque could be considered.

The Northern Spire is the first bridge to be built over the River Wear in more than 40 years and will link Castletown to the north of the river with Pallion in the south.

It’s also part of a wider plan to improve the road network between the A19, Port of Sunderland and Sunderland City Centre with an aim of reducing congestion and attracting investment.

Details of a final opening date and launch event are yet to be announced by SCC .

A report adds the plaque’s content will be finalised after an opening date is set.

Chris Binding , Local Democracy Reporting Service