Sunderland councillors call for public meeting for residents to air views over civic centre site housing development
Councillors have called for an open meeting to enable residents to air any concerns over the proposed housing development on the old civic centre site.
Vistry Partnerships has submitted a planning application for 265 new homes to be built on the site which is no longer in use following the opening of City Hall last month.
It’s a move which has initially been welcomed by the Sunderland City Council leader, Councillor Graeme Miller, who said: “The former civic centre site represents an exciting development opportunity and Vistry’s plans maximise it, delivering an attractive new residential community.”
However, before the proposal gets the green light, St Michael’s ward councillors Michael Dixon, Lyall Reed and Peter Wood have requested an open meeting involving members of the public and any organisations with a vested interest.
In September, Cllr Wood presented a petition to the City Council on behalf of local residents who had expressed their concerns about the impact of the demolition of the civic centre and subsequent construction work on the local environment.
Cllr Wood said: "With its trees and grassed area between the civic centre and St. George's Way, the area is currently rather pleasant. We need to provide good accommodation for new residents to ensure they enjoy their move here whilst preserving the attraction to stay living here for existing residents.
“We also need to ensure there’s sufficient parking. Not everyone will heed the planners' call to swap their car for public transport - however near they may be to the Park Lane interchange."
Cllr Dixon added: “We have had two meetings with Vistry, the new owners of the site, plus council officers, and after the first one, Vistry organised an open day on the grounds of the civic centre during last summer, which was very useful.
"We have strongly recommended that there is a follow-up so that Sunderland residents, especially those living or owning properties close by, can ask as many questions as they wish.”
Councillors are particularly keen to hear from residents in the vicinity who may be directly effected by the proposed construction.
Cllr Dixon added: “There are several types of properties surrounding the proposed development including relatively modern link houses, private flats, two large blocks of apartments owned by Gentoo and older terraced housing.
"As ward councillors, we have been in contact with nearby residents keen to know more and raise any issues. In addition, whether you like or cannot stand its design, this civic centre building is of great interest to the people of Sunderland.
"As ward councillors we have had quite detailed discussions about issues relating to the proposed development where we asked many questions and we feel it should now be the turn of the public to be given that further opportunity.”
A decision on the proposal is set to be made at the planning and highways Meeting, which is scheduled for March, and members of the public are able to participate.
However, the councillors have called for an open debate much earlier in 2022.
Cllr Dixon added: “A less formal gathering with fewer time-restrictions beforehand would be very constructive and Vistry sounded interested when we made this suggestion.
"We have offered to help find a suitable location within our ward where the meeting can take place.”