Council bosses have given the greenlight for this year’s Sunderland Illuminations and Festival of Light.
More than 200,000 visitors are expected for the annual event, which is due to run from Thursday, October 18, until Sunday, November 18, at Roker Park and Roker Cliff Park.
And the decision has also helped guarantee the festival’s future until 2022.
The application put to members of Sunderland City Council’s North Sunderland Development Control Committee this week (Tuesday, October 2) asked for permission to stage the attraction between between October 1 – November 30 for the next five years.
Councillors voted unanimously in favour of the scheme, which organisers have predicted will attract about 9,000 visitors a night, but have agreed to a maximum capacity of 10,000.
Roker Park is planned to be used as the main site for the illuminations, while the nearby Cliff Park and Bede’s Cross will host a Ferris wheel and crazy golf, among other stalls.
A objection was received which criticised the council’s consultation on the event and questioned the safety of the Ferris wheel, as well suggesting it would allow an ‘unimpeded sight’ into nearby homes.
Councillors were assured the attraction would be safe and that it’s location at the northernmost corner of Roker Cliff park meant it would be about 45 metres from the nearest home.
Coun Stuart Porthouse, cabinet member for Housing and Regeneration, said: “There’s plenty of Ferris wheels around the country, so I take what they’re saying with a slight pinch of salt.
“How many events do we have there every year?
“I find it difficult to balance that there would be an objection to this event – [the park] is actually designed for events.”
The first Sunderland illuminations was held in 1935, but was stopped after 1939, following the start of the Second World War.
It was restarted in 1951 but only ran until 1955 because it was considered too expensive. It returned again in 1986-93 before its latest resurrection in 2012.
James Harrison , Local Democracy Reporting Service