'Major supermarket' expected to be unveiled for £15million development at former Houghton Colliery site
A ‘major supermarket operator’ is expected to be unveiled as the main tenant at a new development on a former colliery site.
Developers say plans are moving forward for the the redevelopment of the former Houghton Colliery site, with a supermarket chain lined up to be the anchor tenant and a “popular retail operator” also thought to be exploring options to take space on the site.
The colliery site had stood empty for 40 years when Sunderland City Council’s Cabinet agreed to sell it in 2019 to the Washington-based Hellens Group and Fintry Estates in a move chiefs say has paved the way for £15million retail scheme development.
It is hoped major occupiers will help to draw people back into the area and support existing shops and businesses in Houghton.
Gavin Cordwell-Smith, chief executive of Hellens Group, said: “Our Houghton Colliery development will breathe new life into the town and its economy, creating an attractive retail destination and jobs for local people in the process.
"We are pleased that conversations with occupiers are progressing so positively, and hope to be in a position soon, to announce the anchor tenants, that will form the core of the offer of the site.”
As well as plans for a retail park, there are proposals for a permanent sculpture paying tribute to the area’s mining heritage have also been revealed.
Councillor Kevin Johnston, who is a ward councillor for Copt Hill and deputy portfolio holder for Dynamic City, said: “We are absolutely thrilled that plans are moving forward at Houghton Colliery a site we absolutely wanted to see developed.
"It was a good deal, that not only allowed us to secure a competitive value for the land, but will bring much-needed investment in the area, creating jobs and prosperity and making use of a site that has stood empty for a long time.”
Cllr Johnson said the addition of “a stunning piece of artwork that will celebrate the rich history of this site” would be the icing on the cake.
“This will provide an everlasting tribute to the miners and their families who worked at Houghton Colliery, and will be a real community focal point,” he said.
"It’s something everyone in Houghton can get behind and be proud of, and it will act as an attraction, bringing people into Houghton and onto Newbottle Street.
“It is fitting that the sculpture will also now contribute to the economic heartbeat of our historic town centre, alongside a development that will breathe new life into the town centre.
“It’s been fantastic to play a part in moving forward plans for the area, as part of the Dynamic City portfolio and I’m absolutely thrilled - as a Houghton-born-and-bred lad - that we have been able to secure not only a bright future for the site, but to also deliver a fitting celebration of our mining past.”
The site will see the development of almost 39,000 sq ft (3,600 sq m) of new retail space in all, and is expected to create hundreds of new jobs.