Fresh plans approved for British Esports arena near Sunderland's Stadium of Light
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Sunderland City Council’s planning department has approved a new planning application for a former car showroom site off Stadium Way, near the Stadium of Light.
The premises is set to become part of a wider performance and education campus linked to British Esports to help nurture and support the next generation of talent.
Esports, also known as electronic sports, refers to organised competitive video gaming in which teams and individual players showcase their skills, often in front of large live audiences, to win trophies and cash prizes.
Since the Sunderland development was first announced, British Esports’ plan for a new performance and education campus has evolved.
The car showroom site chosen for development was initially granted planning permission in May, 2022, for an ‘education and recreation’ use with ancillary offices.
In June the same year a separate planning application was approved for a two-storey side extension with minor alterations to the building’s exterior.
Although the development was expected to open in summer, 2023, the former car showroom site is currently vacant.
A new planning application for the site, submitted in June 2023, proposed revised plans to extend the building with a single-storey side extension, instead of the two-storey extension originally proposed.
In addition, the application proposed alterations to the building including cladding “to ensure consistency with the materials for the proposed extension” and an access ramp.
New extension plans aim to deliver expanded facilities and a more practical set up, with facilities on-site also complementing the wider performance campus accommodation planned in the Sunniside area of the city.
The revised esports arena application was officially approved by city planners on August 1, 2023, with details outlined on the council’s planning portal website.
The development, named as the National Performance Centre for British Esports (NEPC), would include a gaming arena with a raised stage area and ancillary areas for studios, broadcasting and editing.
Proposed floor plans show more than 200 seats in the main games arena area, a separate retail area and a function room with arcade games, screens and a DJ booth, as well as a bar and kitchen, a studio and green room and a VIP area.
The development would also include a range of spaces ranging from a talent room, ‘pre-tournament room’ and toilets, to staff office/kitchen facilities, storage areas and a main reception.
The new arena will be linked to dedicated accommodation in the Sunniside area of Sunderland, providing accommodation suitable for esports teams, including home national teams, during their training at the NEPC.
A design and access statement from the applicant adds: “The NEPC will become a centre of excellence, providing access to state-of-the-art equipment, training and investment that will support Sunderland, the North-East and the UK to become a globally-recognised esports hub capable of attracting and developing the world’s best esports talent”.
The statement noted the development would play host to regular esports events and would be “used as a training base for the Great Britain esports team, which recently took part in the Global Esports Games in Singapore”.
It is expected that the new esports arena will open in early 2024.