Sunderland’s Vaux site was a missed opportunity

editorial image

When Sunderland City Council let the Vaux site slip through its fingers we were left with a battle between them and the new owners Tesco.

Tesco did make several attempts to form a development plan for the whole area which many liked but the council refused.

This resulted in a stalemate lasting several years in which time the site became an embarrassment and was seen as a metaphor for the council’s inaction. Eventually Tesco gave up and agreed to sell the site to the council.

The Government provided millions to the council to allow them to buy it. It is reported to have been £22million. Whatever it was, it was a huge premium over what they could have got it for when it was first for sale.

The council still insisted that the site was key to bringing inward investment, large numbers of new jobs and it being the catalyst for the regeneration of the city centre. Now that this is not to be the case the council has admitted defeat and is planning to build a new Civic Centre on the site.

Where is the inward investment and new jobs? Will a new Civic Centre give potential investors the comfort of knowing others have invested? I very much doubt it.

While Sunderland has been sitting twiddling its thumbs, Newcastle has had huge developments take place. Durham has large developments underway by way of inward investment.

Gateshead redeveloped its town centre in 18 months from starting the site assembly. Then to cap it all we learn that Gateshead has announced a £120million development on the river bank. Including an events arena which is something many people were pushing for in Sunderland.

Alan Wright