Work has begun to clear the site of a former bingo hall left in ruins after fire tore through it more than a year ago.
The former Savoy bingo hall on Southwick Green has blighted the community since it burned down in February last year.
Sunderland City Council has welcomed the clearance work on the land, which follows on from its calls to owners NE30 Land Ltd to deal with the dilapidated wreck.
Back in June it was convicted at Sunderland Magistrates’ Court for failure to comply with its Enforcement Notice to improve the land and was fined £500 and told to pay £684 costs.
The land is for sale via Bradley Hall, which says the site is suitable for a variety of uses and highlights its transport links and neighbouring businesses and services.
NE30 Land Ltd, which is registered to a Newcastle accountancy office, could not be contacted.
Today, cabinet secretary, Councillor Paul Stewart said: “The council has powers under the Town & Country Planning Act requiring owners to repair properties.
“In June this year, the council used these powers against the owner who was fined £500 and ordered to pay £684 of costs in a case heard at Sunderland Magistrates’ Court.
We are very pleased to hear work is now under way on removing this eyesore.Councillor Kelly Chequer
“The company stated that they did not have sufficient funds to pay for the demolition of the building and were waiting for the insurance claim to be settled.
“The council has been in a dialogue with the owner and was looking to a second prosecution following a request from Southwick councillors.”
Councillor Kelly Chequer, who is a Southwick ward member alongside Councillor Miles Elliott and Councillor Alex Samuels, said: “Neighbours and residents across Southwick have long had concerns about this building and the council was preparing to take more court action.
“If there had been a second conviction there was a strong chance the court would look more harshly on the owners.
“We are very pleased to hear work is now under way on removing this eyesore.
“Southwick councillors are going to continue working closely with residents and ensuring that there’s an appropriate use for this site.
“Recently, we’ve helped make sure that we didn’t get a car wash or an outside storage unit at the former social club. Now, we look forward to hearing what could be proposed for this site.”