Sunderland City Council set to spend £7.5million kick-starting redevelopment of Crowtree site

City bosses could stump up almost £7.5million to kick-start the redevelopment of the former Crowtree Leisure Centre site in Sunderland.

Wednesday, 13th November 2019, 2:30 pm
Updated Thursday, 14th November 2019, 10:59 am

The centre, which once hosted everything from a swimming pool and ice rink to indoor bowls and even an edition of the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow, was demolished in 2013.

National clothing chain Next had previously been slated to move on to the site with plans for a new purpose-built store unveiled in 2016, but the proposals did not come to fruition.

A ‘Minster Quarter Masterplan’ from the same year proposed using the former Crowtree site to ‘create a new mixed-use civic space that connects a number of key places in the city, including the Empire Theatre and the university city campus’.

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Former Crowtree Leisure Centre site

Now council chiefs are considering allocating £7.474million for a ‘Crowtree Square Retail Unit’ featuring shops and parking as part of a programme of works worth about £404million by 2022/23

Jon Ritchie, Sunderland City Council’s executive director of corporate services, gave details of the latest proposals at a meeting of the authority’s Scrutiny Co-ordinating Committee.

“It’s tied into wider thinking around Keel Square and the Fire Station,” he said

“It won’t be part of the red line around the Bridges, it is in council ownership, it may be a long lease [site], but it won’t be a Bridges facility, although the Bridges is aware and supportive.”

Crowtree Leisure Centre, Sunderland, pre demolition work

He added: “[Development] would be income generating, the tenant would pay on an on-going lease and we’ve factored in the income that would come from that.”

Speaking at the meeting, Coun Niall Hodson, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, said plans for shops on the land was a departure from the original vision for the area.

He said the original Minster Quarter Masterplan was to make that whole part of town shared space, “to bring shop fronts and bars back to High Street West”.

“It was a very well-developed plan and when [plans for Next] came forward that master plan was completely pushed aside in order to accommodate Next,” he said.

The former Crowtree Leisure Centre, Sunderland

“We now seem to be going along with a plan for a single site and developer rather than the master plan the council spent a lot of time and money developing.”

Crowtree during demolition work