Student flats plan in store for Joplings

The former Joplings site in Sunderland city centre.
The former Joplings site in Sunderland city centre.
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Joplings could be transformed into student accommodation complete with cinema room in a fresh plan to transform the landmark city centre building.

T The future of the John Street site has been in limbo since the department store closed in 2010 – but the shop’s name could still live on as new life is breathed into the property.

A hotel plan has failed to become a reality, with the latest application now putting designs on the building to turn it into an 178-bedroom property for students, with each room to have an ensuite bathroom.

The proposals have been submitted to Sunderland City Council by Jaspia Ltd and feature plans to redevelop three floors and create additional space on the fourth floor, along with three shops on the ground floor.

A management office would also be set up, along with a new entrance lobby and bin store, a cinema room, lounge and study rooms and communal rooms, along with access for people with impairments and disabilities.

It would be branded Joplings House, with the developer’s company logo to join it.

How Joplings could look if plans to transform the ex-department store into student accommodation are approved.

How Joplings could look if plans to transform the ex-department store into student accommodation are approved.

Discussions are under way with big brand names not already in the city as negotiations are carried out to fill the shops, but those are subject to planning approval.

The design statement put together by Fahim Farooqui, of Total Planning Solutions Ltd, states: “The re-development of this vacant landmark building will play a key role in the regeneration of Sunniside and the city centre as a whole.

“The development acknowledges the city’s heritage and proposes the retention of existing heritage features, while producing a contemporary appearance to attract a student tenure and produce a high-quality development.”

The shop has stood empty since the parent firm of Joplings, Vergo Retail, went into administration, leading to the loss of 100 jobs at the store.

The re-development of this vacant landmark building will play a key role in the regeneration of Sunniside and the city centre as a whole.

Jaspia Ltd

Hilton had planned to turn it into a hotel, with that scheme followed up by another by Sanguine Hospitality Limited, which said Holiday Express was interested in taking it on as a franchise.

An offer on the property was then trumped by a higher bid, but Sanguine said it was working with that party to further its plans, which had council approval.

The company said the cost of that project, which would have created a 122-bed hotel as well as shops on the ground floor, would have stood at £10million.