Groundbreaking plans for two stunning city centre offices have been submitted for approval to Sunderland City Council.
Legal & General, working with Landid – a developer that has redefined the work environments of high-profile clients including Nike, Unilever and Warner Bros – has submitted a planning application for two new commercial buildings on Riverside Sunderland, which between them will deliver 200,000sq ft of Grade A space for businesses.
The plans are an important step forward in the transformation of Riverside Sunderland – comprising the former Vaux Brewery site, and extending to surrounding areas including Sheepfolds – which will create thousands of jobs and provide a new community for hundreds of residents over the coming years.
The two buildings – which are part of Legal & General’s £100m commitment to Riverside Sunderland, announced last year – have been designed with wellbeing and sustainability in mind, and will be constructed consecutively, with the first building expected to be completed by summer 2022.
Mike Coplowe, Senior Development Manager at Legal & General – which is also funding the development of a new City Hall for Sunderland – said: “We are thrilled to share plans for two new commercial spaces that will stand proudly alongside The Beam and City Hall on Riverside Sunderland, an exciting new urban quarter that is rapidly developing into an attractive place to live, work and play.
“The buildings will deliver high-quality workspaces that will attract more businesses to the city, creating jobs and opportunities when they open, as well as during the construction phase. It’s a hugely exciting time with so much regeneration going on in Sunderland, and we’re delighted to be part of it – and we’re here as long-term investors in the city, focused on making a difference to the city’s future. Our ambition is to create a space where businesses are able to prosper – to do good work, in a place designed to be good for the planet, good for the health and wellbeing of the team who work there; and at the heart of a community where people enjoy a good life and good times.”
The plans for a five and six storey office space – both of which will stand behind City Hall, with views across the river, and out towards the North Sea – will go before Sunderland City Council’s planning committee later this year, and if approved, work on the first building is expected to start in early 2021.
Both of the offices – designed by dn-a architects – will aim for BREAAM excellence, a reflection of their in-built sustainability credentials.
James Silver, managing director at Landid, said: “These buildings are at the core of transformational plans for Riverside Sunderland, which will be a game-changing new part of Sunderland’s city centre.
“The early success of Riverside Sunderland – with Ocado’s move to The Beam, and City Hall gathering pace – means there is a growing optimism in Sunderland and these additional buildings will really underline that. Building attractive, sustainable offices that feature good design will attract businesses, which brings more people to the area – and with the arrival of new homes and places to enjoy, that should make for a vibrant, bustling new part of the city centre, stimulating regeneration throughout the heart of the city.
“We are thrilled to be playing a part in a project that we know will reinvigorate Sunderland’s city centre.”
Their planning application follows news announced in the summer that the institutional investor will also be making a £60m commitment to Hillthorn Park in Washington, building new speculative industrial spaces that will accelerate the site’s development.
Riverside Sunderland – which it is expected will drive the regeneration of the whole city centre – will comprise hundreds of new homes, as well as new places to play and enjoy, with sculptures and art set to be a feature of the area. A Masterplan, with more details of the plans for the site, is expected to be released within days.
Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “There is a real head of steam building on Riverside Sunderland. Just weeks after work concluded on The Beam, City Hall began. And now we’re looking forward to the next buildings to occupy the site.
“Legal & General’s deal was the single biggest investment deal for Sunderland in decades and their speed in moving forward with their plans is testament to their commitment to this city and a demonstration of the strength of our partnership with them.
“Working with Legal & General, we are underwriting a programme of long-term regeneration in the heart of our city, something I am delighted to see moving ahead. Coupled with their investment in Hillthorn Park – which is another boost for the city’s economy – we have established a partnership with an investor that will be absolutely transformational for Sunderland, and that we will use as a catalyst to deliver the vibrant, dynamic city our residents deserve.”
Developing in this way allows Legal & General’s returns on investment go to service pensions throughout the UK. Legal & General has a long track record of delivering high-quality sustainable regeneration projects in cities such as Cardiff, Sheffield, Manchester, Newcastle and now Sunderland. As well as the two new office spaces, the investor is funding City Hall, a public sector hub for Sunderland, that will provide residents with access to services from a range of public sector organisations including the council. Legal & General has fund and built a range of public sector hubs for central government including for HMRC.
The news follows a string of positive announcements for Sunderland. As well as new buildings, old properties are being brought back to life, including Gilbridge Police Station and the River Wear Commissioners Building – to create exciting new business spaces that will attract more new jobs to Sunderland. New leisure venues, retail hubs and public spaces are also taking shape including a 120-room Holiday Inn Hotel on Keel Square; a 450-seater auditorium, that is now under construction in the city’s Minster Quarter; a £1.9m regeneration programme – supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Sunderland City Council – that will fund major improvements to nearby Town Park, along with improvements to historic buildings like the Dun Cow and Peacock and improvements to Mackie’s Corner, which will also gradually become home to more retail and commercial businesses, after being taken over by a Sunderland developer. The historic Elephant Tearooms are also reawakening, as a Local History Library.
The improvements to the city centre are part of a plan to boost the number of people living and working in the heart of the city, creating a stronger daytime and evening economy. Sunderland City Council bosses have said that the emerging Riverside Sunderland project will double the resident population of the city centre from 2,500 to 5,000 and increase employment by 50% to 18,000.