Multi-million pound plans for a new ‘City Hall’ on the Vaux site are set to be given the green light next week.
Last year, Sunderland City Council announced plans to make a move to the former brewery site in a bid to replace its HQ with a smaller, more cost-effective base.
The proposals are linked to ‘phase two’ of development on the site – a project led by the council’s development partner, Siglion.
As well as providing a new base for around 1,200 council staff, the project aims to unite several public sector partners under one roof.
On April 1, the council’s South Sunderland Development Control Sub-Committee will be asked to give the final go-ahead to the plans.
A report, drafted by planning officers, paints a positive picture of the scheme noting that the benefits outweigh any negative impacts.
Under the plans, the building will include various “energy saving measures” including specialist lighting, lifts, ventilation and the potential for eco-friendly heating.
And the road north of the application site- which already has planning consent – will allow access to the Vaux site from Cumberland Street to the east.
During consultation, comments were received from the Ministry of Justice and HM Courts and Tribunals Service over the potential impact on the city’s Magistrates’ Court.
This includes existing vehicle access from the A183 and the potential of the new building “overlooking” the courts.
Tyne and Wear Metro operator, Nexus, also asked Siglion to fund “one introductory transport tickets per employee” as part of a ‘workplace travel plan.
According to planning documents, the applicant has no plans to adopt this due to the costs involved and the existing availability of public transport.
As part of a new travel plan for the site – included in planning conditions -future employees will be encouraged to travel by “sustainable means”.
This week, it was revealed that the size of the planned building has increased by a third to allow for an extra 235 staff, with the project cost now jumping to £61million.
However, city leaders insist the cost impact will be offset from rental income generated from commercial space in the building.
The project is also estimated to deliver net operational savings of £22.091million over 25 years – compared to the council staying in its Burdon Road base which is set to become obsolete in the next five years.
A planning report concludes:
“The planning submission represents a key element of the wider master plan, which established firm principles guiding the development of the Vaux site over the next 20 years.
“It will therefore assist in realising the regeneration of this key brownfield site by bringing it back into active use and offering significant economic benefits to the city.
“It’s therefore considered that the application proposal has taken into account and reflected the character, needs and opportunities of the area.”
Following a cabinet discussion on Wednesday 27th March, the plans will be sent to the council’s area planning committee for final decision.
If approved, work could start on the project this year and have an estimated completion date of 2021.
The meeting will be held at Sunderland Civic Centre, starts at 4pm and is open to the public.
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