Respected architect George Clarke has slammed plans to redevelop the Vaux site as “a wasted opportunity.”
Earlier this year Sunderland City Council approved the application for phase one of the development by Siglion on the 5.5hectare site which has been derelict since the brewery closed in 1999.
Work is due to begin shortly on the development which will feature a 60,000sq ft office building as well as shops, cafes, restaurants and public spaces with views of the River Wear and Sunderland’s bridges.
Former Sunderland College student George has taken to social media to express his dislike of the plans.
Taking to his Instagram account, the TV presenter posted a picture of an artist’s impression of the development and said: “Great news that progress is finally being made on the old Vaux Brewery site in Sunderland...but is this really the best masterplan they could come up with for such a prime and important site?
“Very poor urban design solution and a wasted opportunity.”
Many of his 27,000 Instagram followers agreed, with Gailsb commenting: “Totally agree. Not only is the site a huge joke but I’m afraid the city centre itself has to be a total embarrassment. Sunderland council have to take full responsibility and accountability of its disgraceful appearance.”
Grabrielle Knowlesgreen wrote: “Looks bleak and inhuman. A landscape for robots. What a shame.”
Others asked The Restoration Man and George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces presenter to come up with his own design.
Silverfoxx79 said: “Offer a solution, don’t bemoan.”
Jox2016 said: “You need to offer your services to Sunderland, otherwise an area that size that has so much potential is just going to be ruined by the men in suits.”
In response Black Cat fan George said he would have been happy to be involved in the plans.
“I would have been very happy to help had I been asked,” he said.
The wider plan for the site includes ideas to develop a destination restaurant, set partially in the cliff-face, and about 200 apartments with riverside views. The site will be connected with a pedestrian access to St Mary’s Way and the development of a new pathway along the cliff-edge.
Siglion, which brings together Carillion and the council and is managed by Igloo Regeneration, is also working on plans for Chapelgarth, Seaburn’s seafront, Numbers Garth and Farringdon Row which, along with the Vaux site, forms a £100million plus regeneration programme for the city.
Siglion’s John Seager said the developer was pleased George Clarke was taking an interest in the project - and emphasised the wider masterplan had not been set in stone.
“We have been in contact with George’s PA to say we would love to have a chat with him about it,” he said.
“We welcome all input into our proposals for the site.
“We are delighted to be making progress on phase one and, as the remainder is an outline planning consent, we are always happy for it to be challenged.
“We are absolutely certain that George feels the same aspirations for the site that we do.”