Wickes to stay in Sunderland, safeguarding jobs with move to Dewhirst site

A major building supplies store on Wearside is set to move to a new purpose-built hub after winning planning permission.

Wednesday, 2nd October 2019, 5:45 pm
Updated Thursday, 3rd October 2019, 12:08 am
The Wickes store in Sunderland, which is relocating

The business has been looking for a new home due to issues at its current site at Thomsen Retail Park, Wessington Way.

Now, the firm has won a bid to move to the former Dewhirst clothing factory site in the Pennywell area.

When completed, the new store will provide the same range of products for both trade and DIY.

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Standing at around 10 metres high, it will boast an ‘outdoor project centre’, service yard and a storage compound.

Customers will also benefit from 64 car parking spaces on site alongside facilities for traders and cyclists.

Councillors threw their support behind proposals for the future of Wickes at a meeting in September 30.

A report, presented to the council’s area development control sub-committee earlier this week, outlined the reasons for the planned move.

This includes the Wessington Way site being “constrained in terms of both servicing and customer vehicle access”.

Other issues include the building’s size, location and the lack of scope for refurbishment works.

The application for the new building was lodged by North East Property Partnerships Ltd.

A report said the ex-Dewhirst site was the best option for Wickes following a search for alternative locations in the city.

If the planning application was turned down, councillors heard, Wickes could potentially leave Sunderland.

The jobs supported by the existing store – 19 full and part-time – were a “significant consideration” in this context, a planning report added.

Following discussion, councillors rubber-stamped the plans with work set to start in coming years.

Proposed opening hours include 6am-9pm, Monday to Saturday and 9am-5pm on Sundays.

The decision will also see Wickes join several other retail businesses on the former clothing factory site.

This includes a KFC drive-thru, which opened its doors this year, and a planned Aldi supermarket and Marstons pub.

Wickes was founded in the USA in the 19th Century, and took off during the property boom in the 1950s.

The chain open its first store in the UK in Whitefield, Manchester, in 1972.