Sunderland’s disused Jopling’s department store is set for a new lease of life as student accommodation.
The John Street building has stood empty since Jopling’s parent company collapsed in 2010, and an ambitious plan to turn the former store into a hotel came to nothing.
But now planning bosses have approved an application by developers Jaspia Ltd to transform the massive corner plot into an 178-ensuite bedroom property for students.
The proposals feature plans to redevelop three floors and create additional space on the fourth, along with three shops on the ground floor.
The redevelopment will also see the creation of a management office, with new entrance lobby and bin store, a cinema room, lounge and study and communal rooms, along with access for people with impairments and disabilities.
Spokesman Steven Kwan said work had already started to prepare the interior of the build: “We are very excited,” he said.
We want to provide the best quality facilities for our clients and we are very confident we can do that.Steven Kwan
“We have got the full backing of Sunderland City Council for this.
“We expect to open in September 2018, but marking of the site will start later this month.”
The firm was confident it would be able to compete with a recent spate of student accommodation openings.
“There are more than 10,000 students in Sunderland and we are aware there is fierce competition for them,” he said.
“We want to provide the best quality facilities for our clients and we are very confident we can do that.”
The development would also help to regenerate the Sunniside and John Street area, said Steven, with negotiations already under way to find tenants for the shop units: “We are talking to several big national chains about the ground floor.
“I was born in Sunderland and, like many of the team, went to Sunderland University, so we know that area very well.”