Expansion plans lodged for Veterans in Crisis base in Sunderland

Proposals to expand the base of a Sunderland organisation supporting ex-service personnel and their families have officially been submitted.

Veterans in Crisis Sunderland (VICS) officially opened its ‘Emergency Rendezous (ERV) centre’ in 2019, named after locations where armed forces will meet if they are separated during military action, includes counseling space, support services and temporary accommodation for former servicemen and women if they have been referred by organisations such as the police or health services.

Now it is looking to expand to continue its good work.

Back in July, 2022, Sunderland City Council’s planning department validated an application for community interest company Veterans in Crisis Sunderland (VICS).

Veterans In Crisis Sunderland founder Ger Fowler outside the ERV centre, in Roker Avenue.

This included the erection of a single-storey extension to the rear and side of the building at 1 Roker Avenue to provide additional community space.

The project is being supported by Building Design Northern (BDN) who have provided services to VICS at no cost to develop detailed plans.

A design and access statement submitted to the council provides more details on the scheme, which aims to create more space for community engagement, discussion and socialising.

In addition, plans include a wheelchair accessible entrance from Roker Avenue, a multi-functional meeting space and kitchen, an accessible toilet and an enlarged office area for VICS staff.

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Caption: Veterans in Crisis, 1 Roker Avenue, Sunderland.

The design and access statement adds: “[VICS] is wishing to adapt their premises so that they can continue to utilise the current building as their base for many years.

“The existing building layout is restricted in its size, meaning there is limited space to provide counselling and support to those in need.

“The opportunity to extend to the rear and side of the building will provide sufficient space for the charity’s immediate needs.”

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The design and access statement confirms plans would “create a contemporary wraparound extension that creates an open plan space with opportunities for informal discussion and socialisation”.

At the official opening of Veterans in Crisis Sunderland's new ERV building in 2019 with, from left, founder Ger Fowler, Mayoress Diane Snowdon, Mayor David Snowdon and ambassador Kevin Ball.

It goes on to say: “The extension to the building will benefit the veterans and other community groups in the area, strengthening the charity’s ability to support those in need.

“The design of the proposed extension is to create a contemporary and subservient extension to the existing building, that creates a contrast to the red brick and white render materiality with a black or dark grey cladding and sedum roof.

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“Overall we consider the proposals to be a positive addition to 1 Roker Avenue, providing the necessary accommodation through high quality, contemporary, crisply detailed alterations which reads as subservient to the original building”.

A decision on the planning application is expected to be made by the end of September, 2022, once a council consultation exercise has concluded.

Subject to planning permission being granted, work is expected to be completed later this year.

Ger Fowler, chief executive officer at VICS, has previously said the plans would “transform our ability to support Sunderland’s veterans”.

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Speaking in June, 2022, he said: “The support and generosity of people and organisations is key in enabling us to deliver much-needed help to ex-service men and women, so we’re very grateful to BDN for their goodwill in helping us at no cost”.

For more information on the plans for Veterans in Crisis Sunderland, visit Sunderland City Council’s online planning portal and search reference: 22/01694/FUL