Work will begin on the creation of an animated community and event space at the heart of Riverside Sunderland.
Adjacent to City Hall and the Keel Line, the project will see the 17,383 sq ft brownfield site transformed into Keel Edge – a stunning, flexible, multi-use space.
Work is expected to complete in early summer, with the site being open for people to enjoy from July onwards.
The community space will cater for residents as well as visitors and people working at Riverside Sunderland, providing space for pop-up food vendors, a giant screen and areas to sit and meet. It will also comprise vibrant bespoke artwork designed by local designers.
Patrick Melia, chief executive of Sunderland City Council, said: “We are delighted that work will soon start on what is yet another key piece of the Riverside Sunderland jigsaw falling into place.
“Sitting at the heart of this ever-transforming site, Keel Edge will provide stunning landscaped areas where people can meet, eat, and unwind in a relaxed, open-air setting.
“It will help to activate the Keel Line, extending the city centre offer onto the Vaux site, before connecting it to the Sheepfolds neighbourhood and its exciting new facilities once the new Wear footbridge is complete.”
Keel Edge is the latest in a string of projects to get underway in the Vaux neighbourhood of Riverside Sunderland, putting it alongside The Beam, City Hall, Maker & Faber, Sunderland Eye Hospital, and Vaux Housing.
It is estimated that through the development of new homes, workspaces, leisure venues and public amenities, Riverside Sunderland will create between 8,000 – 10,000 jobs and provide 1,000 new city centre homes to rent and buy, making it one of the most ambitious urban regeneration projects anywhere in the UK.
Patrick added: “Our entire approach to developing the Riverside Sunderland masterplan was to ensure it provided mixed-use spaces that would breathe new life into this historic site, and this is a perfect example of our vision in action.
“We firmly believe that the projects which are planned and currently underway will help to regenerate the riverside and restore it to its central place in the life and work of the city. It will strengthen connections between the city centre and the two university campuses, the football stadium, Beacon of Light and communities such as Southwick and Roker.
“It really is heralding the start of a new dawn for the city.”
The project is being led by North East firm Brambledown Landscape Services Ltd, which has undertaken various environmental improvement projects across the UK on behalf of clients ranging from Balfour Beatty to Kier Construction and Miller Construction.
It has also worked on local projects including the Beacon of Light, Dalton Park, the Segedunum Roman Fort in Wallsend, Envision’s battery plant in Sunderland and Stockton’s Living Wall.
Neville Clay, director at Brambledown Landscape Services, said: “As a North East business which has worked on an array projects across the region over the last 40 years, we are delighted to be involved in this exciting project.
“We’re currently working on several projects across the city and having previously worked on The Beam, just behind Keel Edge, we’re thrilled to be continuing to play a part in the transformation of this iconic site and continue creating jobs for local people in the process.”