Eco park, cafe, garden and visitor centre at former Elemore Golf Course set to take step forward as Sunderland chiefs asked for approval

Plans to transform a former golf course into an eco park, cafe, garden and visitor centre are to be discussed by city leaders.

Friday, 8th October 2021, 1:16 pm

Sunderland City Council said residents who attended open day events and community meetings, and completed online surveys, said they wanted to see the site re-used as an open country park, with garden centre and visitor centre facilities.

They also want to see protection for the site's extensive ecology which has developed over time, a reduction in anti-social behaviour and to celebrate the heritage of the area, council chiefs said.

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The former Elemore golf course

Now senior councillors on the city’s ruling cabinet are being asked to approve a procurement process and award the necessary contracts to allow the work required to redevelop the 60-hectare site in the Hetton ward of the city to go ahead.

The council said planning applications are also progressing for the change of use to the building on the Elemore site, as well as creating additional garden centre outbuildings, more car parking and wider landscape works to the park areas.Work will include the redevelopment of existing building to transform into café facilities, garden centre, visitor centre and community space, including installation of specialist changing places standard facilities for residents with severe physical disabilities.The proposal is to redevelop the former golf club house into a café, garden centre, visitor centre and community space, as well as improve the existing car park and create an additional car park.

The building will be accessible and will support all residents and communities while the garden centre and café will support training for adults with disabilities.As part of its community wealth building strategy which is all about keeping wealth in local communities, the City Council is also planning to work with local suppliers and contractors wherever possible to make sure that funding generated through the project is retained within the city.Councillor Claire Rowntree, deputy leader of Sunderland City Council, who as lead member for the project, chairs the Elemore Project Group, said: "The local community has been at the heart of these plans and I'd like to thank all the local voluntary and community groups for their support as part of the Elemore Project Group."We're hoping that if we get the necessary planning approvals, we'll be able to start work on the building and car park in December and that the new garden centre, café, visitor centre and community space could be open as soon as early Summer 2022, which is really exciting."We have also commenced a wintering birds survey on the site as well as pruning back some of the planting along the Stephenson Trail. In addition, we also intend to carry out tree planting with local schools too, which will link into the launch of the region’s new North East Community Forest as well as the Queen’s Green Canopy initiative to celebrate Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022."Cabinet meets at 10am on Tuesday 12 October.

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