Sunderland council's power shift to Vaux site is a masterstroke of Victor Kiam proportions ... but will the ghost of Sir Basil come back to haunt them?
Sunderland City Council is entering Victor Kiam territory.
Those of certain age will remember the name. Business tycoon Victor appeared on Remington shaver TV commercials in the late 1970s extolling the virtues of their product before ending the ads with the killer line: “I liked it so much, I bought the company.”
Having extolled the virtues of the Vaux site, Sunderland City Council’s decision to move lock, stock and barrel onto the site makes sense. They liked it so much, they’re moving there!
The old civic centre site, at approaching 50 years old, is arguably no longer fit for purpose.
Brand spanking new premises for the council on the flagship gateway to the city is a no-brainer.
Councillors are putting their money where their mouth is and demonstrating their confidence in the new development.
The only fly in the ointment is the future of the old site.
There’s no doubt it is in a prime location and sure to attract potential buyers to turn it into housing.
The only issue will be the civic centre building itself. While many consider it an eyesore, there’s an argument to grant it listed building status.
Designed by revered architect Sir Basil Spence, who was knighted for his design of the controversial Coventry Cathedral, this example of the brutalist school of architecture will be admired by many.
Whether it will prove a problem going forward, only time will tell.
But on paper, the move ticks all the right boxes and sends out a confident message to potential investors.
And if they’re moneybags like the Mr Kiam of old, all the better.