Historic Sunderland bank building to become apartments
A former historic bank building in the heart of Sunderland city centre is set for a new lease of life as apartments following a decision by city councillors.
In 2011, HSBC moved its remaining Fawcett Street operations to its Market Square site.
Since this date, the old branch building has been unused and protected by fabric covering.
Following the sale of the site earlier this year, X8 Properties Ltd have been progressing plans for the building, which dates back to 1902.
This included 15 apartments across the upper floors, a ground floor retail unit, secure cycle parking and a bin storage area.
During consultation, no objections were raised by the Tyne and Wear archaeologist or Sunderland City Council’s conservation officer.
On Friday, September 4, the council’s Planning and Highways (East) Committee approved the plans at a virtual meeting, which was held remotely and broadcast live on YouTube.
“I think it’s a great application,” said committee member Cllr James Doyle.
“I think it’s going to help conserve and restore one of the city’s most impressive and valuable buildings.”
The applicant is also expected to provide a financial contribution to the council, via a section 106 legal agreement, to reduce the development’s impact on coastal nature sites.
At Friday’s planning hearing, Cllr Steven Bewick asked if the funds would be removed due to the “additional costs of removing the netting from the outside of the [HSBC] building to make it more presentable.”
Planning officer, Ian Birkett, stressed the applicant was willing to make a contribution towards coastal protection and said this would happen “irrespective of having to remove the netting to the front of the building.”
In a report to councillors, council highways bosses said the site is well served by public transport with a ‘city centre residents parking scheme’ available for residents with cars.
While welcoming the building being brought back into use, Cllr Niall Hodson raised concerns about the size of some of the apartments in the floor plans.
“Some are reasonably large but one or two of them are really quite small, I’m guessing that this is the only matrix that made it profitable for the developer?” he asked.
Planning officers, responding, said the footprint of the proposed accommodation would be “large enough to provide a good standard of living.”
Developers have said the apartment scheme will help to safeguard the former bank building and improve the appearance of the street.
A schedule of proposed works have also been submitted to refurbish the building, including repairs to the stonework.
Before the apartments can welcome tenants, a ‘satisfactory scheme’ of noise insulation must be submitted and signed off by city planners.