CITY leaders have unveiled an ambitious blueprint to put Sunderland on the map and increase investment in the area.
The city’s Economic Leadership Board and Sunderland Business Group have come up with the 3, 6, 9 Vision, which is set to shape the cultural and economic development of Wearside in the coming years.
Those behind the plan hope it will help Sunderland attract up to £1billion in investment.
Each year leading up to 2024 will have a specific theme. It will begin this year with events to mark the 150th anniversary of the publication of Alice in Wonderland, which has strong connections to Sunderland through its author Lewis Carroll.
Among the other themes will be celebrating Sunderland’s industrial heritage and future as well as Sunderland AFC’s 140th anniversary in 2019. It will culminate in 2024 with a celebration of 1,350 years since the Venerable Bede was born.
The plan will also hope to create further support for Sunderland’s UK City of Culture 2021 bid, to be submitted next year and use the anticipated success that hosting the Tall Ships Race in 2018 will bring.
I always describe Sunderland as the “engine room of the North East” and that’s what being proud to be a Mackem is about.Paul Callaghan, chairman of the Economic Leadership Board
Paul Callaghan, chairman of the Economic Leadership Board, told the Echo: “There is a real renaissance in the city right now, particularly in arts and culture, and because there’s more confidence among the people.
“We’ve set out the timeline because we’ll be able to look at things every three years and show what has been done.
“I wanted to try and imagine how the city could look in the future and set out some concrete objectives, rather than nice but vague ones, which are more tangible.”
Within the next three years, projects expected to be completed in Sunderland will be the transformation of the former central fire station into an arts and culture hub, the building of a Hilton Hotel at the Stadium of Light and the move of Sunderland College to its new city centre campus.
The city also has 24 major infrastructure projects which it is hoped will all be completed by 2024. These include Keel Square, the new Wear Crossing, the Beacon of Light and the International Advanced Manufacturing Park.
“Investment of about £750million is going to come into the city that we are aware of,” added Mr Callaghan.
“But we want to encourage more investment, closer to £1billion, so that we transform Sunderland.
“I think to give potential investors confidence, we have to show them that we have a plan and that we are making an attempt to change where we live for the better.
“We’re taking a much more holistic view of the city, rather than looking at it in individual parts.
“Over the next nine years we need the right education and training so that we create more business, jobs and people who have the skills to meet that demand.
“I always describe Sunderland as the “engine room of the North East” and that’s what being proud to be a Mackem is about.”
The aims of the 3, 6, 9 Vision:
Aim 1: ‘A new kind of university city’
Make Sunderland a vibrant, creative and attractive city, with a strong learning ethic and a focus on developing and supporting enterprise, with the University of Sunderland at its heart.
Aim 2: ‘A national hub of the low-carbon economy’
Use the opportunities offered by new low-carbon technologies to stimulate economic activity in Sunderland. And showcase projects such as electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf produced in the city.
Aim 3: ‘A prosperous and well-connected waterfront city centre’
A drive to get more people spending time and money in Sunderland city centre. Its position on the waterfront enhances its distinctive role in the region.
Aim 4: ‘An inclusive city economy for all ages’
Improve opportunities for people of all ages and sections of the community, targeting unemployment in particular. Sunderland should concentrate on tackling the decline in the number of younger people living and working in the city.
Aim 5: ‘A one city approach to economic leadership’
Improve economic leadership in the city.