Housing plans for Sunderland Civic Centre 'lack ambition' as opposition councillors say it should be used for leisure and more
Plans to build hundreds of homes on land where Sunderland Civic Centre now stands is a missed opportunity, opposition councillors have said.
Sunderland City Council has said Vistry Partnerships North East is the preferred developer for the site in Burdon Road, which will be cleared when it moves to the City Hall development on the former Vaux site.
The authority says the firm submitted the strongest bid for the plot, with its cabinet expected to approve the conditional sale next week.
The land has been earmarked for 275 homes along with landscaping and pathways, linking the city centre with Ashbrooke and Mowbray Park.
But Conservative members believe the proposals are a missed opportunity and it could have been used to bring in more attractions for residents and visitors.
However, with the decision made, the party hopes the existing plans are a success.
Councillor Michael Dixon, a ward member for St Michael’s, said: “The current civic centre is situated in the ward I represent and as I also speak for the Conservative Group of Councillors on housing this issue is of special interest.
“For many people in the city the decision to build housing on the current civic centre will be a huge disappointment which lacks ambition.
"To take advantage of this unique site on the edge of the city centre doorstep, seemed to many like a great, once-in-a lifetime opportunity for commercial development with leisure and service outlets.
"Especially so with it being next to excellent transport facilities which would have seen more people coming into Sunderland than leaving for leisure and pleasure, as has sadly been the case for many years.
“But the decision has been made and we wish the project well.
"We are keen to see existing green spaces preserved, a sympathetic and attractive design of the properties and of course the definition of any affordable housing being built to mean just that.
"I think residents of both the ward and the city will be interested in the financial arrangements agreed, including responsibility for the expense of clearing the site.”
He added the cost of the housing will have to be “realistic” and successful in the long term, and said: “Such is its prominence, being so close to the city centre, that this proposed housing development simply cannot afford to fail.”