More images revealed of inside Sunderland's new City Hall as council prepares to move in
Councillors have received an update on new meeting facilities at City Hall as Sunderland City Council prepares to make a move to its new headquarters.
The new building at Riverside Sunderland is expected to be handed over to the local authority next month, with staff moving in as part of a ‘phased relocation.’
This follows a previous decision by the council to vacate its ageing base off Burdon Road, with the site now earmarked for future housing development.
In a presentation given to the council’s Scrutiny Co-ordinating Committee on Thursday, October 14, councillors were given an overview of the meeting rooms at City Hall.
A total of 50 bookable meeting rooms will be located across all six floors, with the largest space being the council chamber which can accommodate up to 300 people.
Three committee rooms will also be provided which can take up to 30 people each.
Meanwhile, the mayoral parlour can accommodate up to 120 people for activities such as fundraising events or alternatively, the space can be subdivided into three separate rooms.
The remaining meeting rooms across the building can accommodate between two and 14 people, with numbers based on research undertaken prior to the City Hall move.
Council officers said the meeting rooms will be equipped with technology to allow for wireless conferencing and online booking.
The conferencing software ‘ClickShare’ allows staff to connect to screens and audio in meeting rooms, providing an ‘equal experience’ for meeting participants, whether they are physically or virtually present.
Both the council chamber and mayoral parlour will also have an audiosystem to enable the livestreaming of meetings/events.
As the council chamber sits on a flat floorplate with storage facilities, it will be able to be used commercially for conferences, weddings, performances or other leisure activities.
During this week’s scrutiny meeting, councillor Juliana Heron asked whether the new civic spaces would have a ‘loop system’ for people with hearing problems.
She said the present facilities lack this basic means of helping people who needed it.
Cllr Heron said: “At the present time this council chamber does not have them […] and I have found it very difficult [to hear at meetings] this year with masks being on and everything.
“So for somebody who has got a problem with her hearing, this chamber has never been fit-for-purpose for quite a while.”
Council officers confirmed that portable loop system technology would be available within the new council chamber and committee rooms and to serve the customer services network.
A range of other meeting spaces will also be available within the building to support collaborative working, such as ‘huddle areas,’ presentation lounges and ‘touchdown lounges.’
Sunderland City Council committee meetings are currently taking place at the civic centre off Burdon Road.
Due to Covid-19 restrictions, full council meetings summoning all 75 elected members have recently been held at the Montgomery Suite at Sunderland AFC’s Stadium of Light.
Council meetings open to the press and public are expected to shift to City Hall in 2022.