Decision date set on Blacks Corner deli plans for Seaburn Tram Shelter on Sunderland seafront
Plans to transform Seaburn’s old tram shelter into a delicatessen are set to be decided by city councillors next month.
The award-winning eatery is the proposed tenant for the shelter – one of three historic buildings being revamped as part of investment from Sunderland City Council and The Coastal Communities Fund.
In November, Blacks Corner submitted an application for listed building consent as a key step towards making the café conversion a reality.
Although plans to change the use of the Grade II-listed Seaburn Tram Shelter to a café have already been granted, listed building consent is required for the physical works.
This includes the removal of internal partitions and seating, restoring the fish-scale roof and cast-iron pillars, erecting glazed timber panels to enclose the building and various other works.
Residents have previously raised concerns and a petition about changes to the shelter, but applicants say the plans would be sympathetic to its history while creating an attractive addition to the seaside offer.
Councillors on the Planning and Highways (East) Committee are expected to rule on the proposals when they next meet on Wednesday, January 5 2022.
According to a report prepared for the panel a total of 31 representations have been submitted to the council during public consultation, including 25 offering support for the proposals and six raising objections.
Comments from supporters claim the plans would “uplift the heritage value of the building” and “breathe new life” into it, as well as boosting footfall to the area and helping to reduce antisocial behaviour.
Meanwhile, objectors say the plans would “amount to a significant loss of heritage” and that other sites should be utilised or converted to bring forward the hospitality use.
Objectors also noted a previous petition of more than 2,600 signatures against the change of use of the tram shelter as an “indication of local opposition to the plan.”
Council planners, in a committee report, state the petition was prepared “outside of the listed building consent application process.”
They added that the physical works to the Seaburn Tram Shelter, on balance, would be acceptable and have recommended the plans for approval.
The committee report reads: “Whilst the comments raised within the objections are noted and clearly set out the importance of the shelter, officers are of the view that the submitted proposals will give this cherished local heritage asset a viable use that will serve to sustain and enhance its significance into the future, whilst making a positive contribution to local character and distinctiveness.
“On balance, the proposals are considered to have a positive impact on the listed building by conserving and sustaining its significance into the future.
“The proposals will importantly address the immediate repair and conservation needs of the building and give a distinctive and locally valued heritage asset a sustainable future that will further add to the leisure offer, visitor facilities and overall vibrancy and on-going regeneration of the seafront.”
Comments from the County Archaeologist, included in the planning report, say the shelter is “considered to be rare in a national context as it remains a largely intact example of an early 20th century tram shelter.”
The shelter is also classed as “historically important” due to its “connection to tram-era public transport in Sunderland and the role of this transport network during the heyday of the English seaside.”
Applicant Blacks Corner already has experience in transforming period buildings after breathing new life into its corner site in East Boldon and naming it after the colloquial village term for the site.
As part of plans for the Seaburn Tram Shelter, Blacks Corner aims to bring its offer to the seaside including British farm produce, luxury hampers and a delicatessen.
Councillors on the Planning and Highways (East) Committee will discuss the listed building consent application at their next meeting on January 5 2022.
The meeting starts at 5.30pm at City Hall and will be open to the public.