Plans backed for group to improve area around Sunderland railway station ahead of revamp
Councillors have backed plans to set up a working group to look to improve an area of Sunderland ahead of the city’s multi-million pound railway station revamp.
The City Council’s Economic Prosperity Scrutiny Committee this week backed setting up a task group to look at improvements to the Sunniside area.
It comes after councillors raised concerns over antisocial behaviour, drug use and “halfway houses” in the area, and called for it to be cleared up before the railway station redevelopment is carried out.
Committee chair Cllr David Snowdon said issues in the area had been raised to him from several councillors, after numerous developments in the area over recent years.
He said: “There’s been a number of developments within that area over the last few years and I think we haven’t quite got the development right within that area and I think it probably needs some close looking at.
“I think really if we had a task and working group to have a look, it’s how do we redevelop it and make sure it becomes part of the night time economy, especially with the new rail station coming in.”
Cllr Michael Dixon, St Michael’s ward representative, said he and Conservative colleague Cllr Usman Ali were both interested in being part of the working group focusing on the area.
He added proposed work in the area to date has included new housing and student accommodation, and the work of the group could have a positive impact.
He said: “There’s a lot happening if I may say so and I think we can join the things together, quite a lot of different topics, and to go into it in a constructive manner, that would be the whole idea.”
Cllr Ali, Ryhope ward representative, congratulated councillors for approving the next step for the railway station development earlier this week, adding the council now has six years to improve the Sunniside area ahead of the work.
He said: “We’ve got six years, we need to try and clean it up the best we can. I don’t think the developments around Sunniside have been bad, I think the council’s really tried.
“It’s just unfortunate there’s drug dependent people who hang around there, that just stems back to the halfway houses, so it’s something that we’ve got time to try and resolve before this train station comes through.
“Once it comes it’s really going to take away from the grandeur of it if we don’t have this antisocial behaviour taken out of the city centre.”