New Sunderland multi-storey car park approved for site of Sinatra's and Railway Club

Works to build a new multi-storey car park in Sunderland city centre are set to start later this year, after plans were approved by councillors.

Sunderland City Council’s Planning and Highways Committee on Monday, October 3, gave the green light to plans for a new car park development on Holmeside.

The council planning application, which is linked to ongoing regeneration efforts in the area, will see the demolition of the Railway Club and old Sinatra’s bar to enable development.

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This includes a new car park offering 404 spaces over four levels with disabled bays, electric vehicle charging points and cycle parking, as well as sustainable features including photovoltaic panels and “LED lamp technology”.

A CGI showing how the area could look when demolition and build plans go ahead. Credit: GSS Architecture.

The car park scheme is also linked to regeneration plans in the area, such as the renovation of Sunderland’s central rail station, a new bus priority and gyratory scheme on Holmeside and the demolition of the old Sunderland Civic Centre car park to make way for housing.

Following council consultation on the Holmeside car park plan, three representations were received including two from members of the public.

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Public concerns included the loss of the Sinatra’s building, the need for the car park and its longevity and the impacts of increased traffic in the area.

The Sunderland Civic Society also submitted a representation with concerns related to the design and materials used in construction and wider impacts on nearby listed buildings.

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Sinatra's and The Railway Club are set to be demolished to create a new multi-storey car park.

However, Sunderland City Council planning officers deemed the scheme acceptable and recommended it for approval at a decision-making meeting at City Hall.

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A planning agent speaking on behalf of the city council told councillors the scheme would “regenerate a largely vacant site”, “improve the visual frontage along Holmeside” and contribute to the “longer term vitality and viability of surrounding businesses” in the city centre.

This included the car park’s role in helping to “create and link” sustainable transport in the area and to “attract increased footfall and pedestrian activity”.

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After being put to the vote, plans for the Holmeside multi-storey car park won unanimous support from the Planning and Highways Committee.

Sinatra's and The Railway Club are set to be demolished to create a new multi-storey car park.
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Councillors on the decision-making panel acknowledged the demolitions were needed to allow for the wider regeneration of the area.

Councillor Stephen Foster told the meeting: “Who would have thought the Railway Club and Sinatra’s would be ready for the chop.

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“Many a good night had in there but now [the buildings] are old like myself and decrepit and I think they need to come down for the area.

“I would totally support the application”.

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Sinatra's and The Railway Club are set to be demolished to create a new multi-storey car park.

Councillor Melanie Thornton, chair of the Planning and Highways Committee, added: “I think it’s a great application and I would imagine everyone is more than happy to go along with and approve this application”.

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Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council and vice-chair of the panel, also praised the development.

Cllr Miller said: “I welcome the development as we continue to drive the city centre forward”.

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The proposed multi-storey car park would have 88 spaces set aside for electric vehicle charging points and a further 17 disabled bays located on the ground floor.

Part of the ground floor would also be utilised for secure cycle storage providing 36 spaces accessed via Holmeside, as well as provision for a “small commercial unit”.

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Following the granting of planning permission, work is planned to start in winter 2022 with the building anticipated to be completed by winter 2023.

Sinatra's and The Railway Club are set to be demolished to create a new multi-storey car park.
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Simon Rennison-Rae, partner and lead architect at GSS Architecture, the firm behind the designs for the multi-storey car park, welcomed the council planning approval.

He added: “The new multi-storey car park is another step in the right direction for the wider redevelopment and regeneration of Sunderland city centre, something which GSS are delighted to be a part of.

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“It has been a great team effort to get to this point, with GSS working closely with Sunderland City Council and project managers, Turner & Townsend, and planning consultants, DPP Planning, and we look forward to seeing the project progress further in the coming months ahead.

“For GSS, this marks a continued involvement in delivering for major public sector clients, such as Sunderland City Council and the University of Sunderland, as well as many others in the wider region, as part of the practice’s rapid growth and success.”