Some of Sunderland’s historic gems could soon be shining again if Wearside wins £2million funding for improvements in the city centre’s new cultural quarter.
Sunderland City Council is bidding for Heritage Lottery funding to help restore historic buildings in the area around Sunderland Minster, the Empire Theatre and Town Park.
The sections are part of the Bishopwearmouth Conservation area, and includes a wealth of local history and exciting architecture.
As one of the three original settlements that came together to form Sunderland, it was also one of the first parts of the city to be designated as a conservation area.
Now, with regeneration of the city centre continuing apace with the recent completion of Keel Square, the City Council is submitting a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for almost £2million to help restore and improve some of the properties in the area.
If successful, the Townscape Heritage scheme would be supplemented with £200,000 match funding from the council to provide grants to property owners and tenants to help them repair and restore their properties. It would also be used to fund improvements to Town Park and for a range of activities and events celebrating the area’s heritage aimed at local people and visitors alike.
Cabinet Secretary Councillor Mel Speding, said: “We’re very proud of our heritage in Sunderland. This scheme will allow us to see some of the beautiful buildings and historic spaces in the Bishopwearmouth conservation area restored through a Townscape Heritage partnership with the Heritage Lottery Fund.
“We’ve made a considerable investment into the infrastucture around the Minster since 2013 including the recently completed Keel Square.”
He added: “There are also some really exciting plans being brought forward by partners including the Music, Arts and Cultural Trust and the University of Sunderland to make more of the area’s evolving cultural scene by developing buildings like the old fire station.
“We want to make sure we continue this momentum for the benefit of residents, visitors and businesses alike. But we recognise that investment is needed to make the most of the area’s historic pubs, restaurants and shops. This scheme will help property owners and tenants to restore their properties as well as reinstating period features and bringing vacant floor space into use.”
The council expects to hear in January if its stage 1 bid for HLF funding has been successful.