Three major schemes approved for Riverside Sunderland under vision for Vaux site
Major schemes aiming to transform Sunderland city centre have been given the green light by councillors.
Sunderland City Council’s Planning and Highways (East) Committee approved three planning applications this week linked to the council’s Riverside Sunderland regeneration project.
This included a new high-level pedestrian and cycle bridge across the River Wear, a multi-storey car park and new homes on land overlooking the riverside.
The £31million ‘smart bridge’ will connect the former Vaux Brewery site to Sheepfolds, providing improved links to the Stadium of Light, university facilities and residential communities to the north of the river.
It will also feature creative lighting and augmented reality allowing people to use their smartphones to see virtual displays.
The residential scheme ‘Vaux Housing’ aims to create a new sustainable community which is due to be completed in 2023 in time for the Sunderland Future Living Expo, a public event that will showcase a new way of city living.
A total of 132 properties will be built using modern methods of construction with a mix of 91 houses and 41 apartments and a variety of amenity spaces, including a community allotment known as ‘Kingsley Gardens’.
Meanwhile, the third application will see a multi-storey car park built at Farringdon Row to cater for the increased number of people living and working in the city centre.
Alongside providing 650 spaces and cycle provision, the building will feature an eye-catching design, colourful lights and a ’living wall’ with a full irrigation system sitting behind.
The three schemes were passed at a planning hearing on Monday (March 29), which was held via videolink and broadcast on YouTube.
Following consultation on the Riverside Sunderland housing application, concerns were raised by members of the public about the impact on the sewerage network.
Objectors said there was not enough storage capacity in the network and called for a full independent review of the sewerage treatment system.
But a report presented to the planning committee said that, on the evidence provided, “officers do not consider there is any justification for refusing this application on foul water grounds [or] to seek further independent appraisal.”
During discussion on the proposed city bridge, it was also revealed that several designs are being considered for protective barriers, or parapets.
Some options take inspiration from Wearside’s industrial past, while another option includes a simple railing composition.
Councillor Denny Wilson suggested that the bridge should make a statement and warned designers about “letting the past design our future.”
He added: “I do fight for Sunderland’s heritage and there’s loads of evidence there to show that, but we have got loads of developments coming to this city that keep referencing back to our past.
“Is that going to really move us forward for a new identity?
“We’re not a shipbuilding town now, the coal mines are shut and the glass, it’s all gone. There is a place to reference all this but it’s time to move on.
“This bridge really is an opportunity to be spectacular.”
Developers said the final design would aim to strike a balance between keeping the public safe and creating an ‘experience’ for visitors.
Following planning approval this week, the developments are set for completion during the first half of 2023.