New restaurant plan for Sunderland city centre landmark building

Hutchinson's Buildings, High Street West
Hutchinson's Buildings, High Street West

New life is to be breathed into a city centre landmark building after it was bought by a new owner, having stood abandoned for years.

A section of the Hutchinson’s Buildings, in High Street West, is to become a restaurant after planners approved a change of use to transform what had been a former amusement arcade.

Mackie's Corner ,at the junction of Fawcett Steet and High Steet West, Sunderland, pictured late last year.

Mackie's Corner ,at the junction of Fawcett Steet and High Steet West, Sunderland, pictured late last year.

Work has already begun to clean up the property, which has been sold by Gentoo and was once home to the Chambers nightclub.

The site had been marketed for some time in the search for someone to take on the premises, which takes in Mackie’s Corner, and which was the last home to Sweet Home Alabama until the shop’s move to Fawcett Street in 2012.

The restaurant will create four jobs according to planning papers, which say the new use for the building is “particularly welcome”.

It states: “Numbers 103 to 105 High Street West currently lie vacant and form part of the wider Hutchinson’s Buildings which are of historic landmark significance and townscape value.

The resuse of these important city centre buildings is particularly welcome.

City planners

“As such, the resuse of these important city centre buildings is particularly welcome.

“In line with policy, it is clear that restaurant/cafes are identified as uses which are to be encouraged within this part of the city centre due to the contribution they can make in promoting a lively, mixed use urban quarter.

“The new restaurant will not only provide much needed activation and footfall to this prominent part of High Street West at its busiest junction with Fawcett Street, but it will hopefully act as a catalyst for further operators to take on the remaining vacant ground floor units of the Hutchinson’s Buildings.”

In approving the change of use, Sunderland City Council said the project would have a “positive impact on the vitality and vibrancy of the area.”

Mackie's Corner pictured in March 1953.

Mackie's Corner pictured in March 1953.

The application, granted to Ms Foroozan Azl, has said work must be sensitive to the heritage of the building, which lies within the Sunniside conservation area and was built between 1850 and 1853.

Permission has also been approved for new walls, doors, toilets and a kitchen.

Graham Gowland, Gentoo’s executive director of property said: “Gentoo completed the sale of the Hutchinson’s Buildings earlier in 2017.

“We are delighted the building will be brought back into use and we wish the new owner the best of luck.”