Three key elements of Sunderland Council’s flagship Riverside development were approved by planners this week.

A £31m smart bridge, 132 new homes – the first of 1,000 planned for the area – and a 650-space multi-storey car park were all given the go ahead at a meeting on Monday. All are due for completion in 2023.

Riverside Sunderland is a 20-year project centred on the site of the former Vaux Brewery. Launched in 2019 with a £100m commitment from Legal & General to build new offices, it makes provision for 1,000 new homes, 1 million sqft of modern office space, a school, hotel, civic buildings, a development site for life sciences, two new bridges over the River Wear and a riverside park. Earlier this month South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust unveiled plans to build a £36m eye hospital there.

Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “The rate at which planning applications for this important development are going before committees sets out the scale of our ambition for Riverside Sunderland, while the quality of these proposals demonstrates our commitment to create something world-class, working with award winning architects to ensure that Riverside Sunderland is a place we can all be proud of.

“These schemes will quickly advance if they’re passed through planning, so by 2023, the Riverside will be transformed.  With plans for a new state of the art Eye Hospital and two high-quality office buildings from Legal & General advancing too, there is now only space on the former Vaux site for two further commercial developments, which demonstrates the pace and vigour with which we have delivered, since the first development – The Beam – completed in 2019.”

The proposed central office district of Riverside Sunderland

The bridge, designed for pedestrians and cyclists, will connect the development to Sheepfolds, providing improved links to the Stadium of Light, the two University of Sunderland campuses in the city centre and St Peter’s, and residential communities to the north of the river.

The residential complex, designed by architects Proctor & Matthews and MawsonKerr, comprises a mix of 1, 2 and 3 bedroom new homes on land overlooking the river.  The application set out proposals for a sustainable new community, which is due to be completed by 2023, in time for the Sunderland Future Living Expo, a public event that will showcase a new way of city living.

Meanwhile, staff at Sunderland Eye Infirmary have welcomed plans for the proposed new facility, one of the few specialist standalone eye hospitals in the whole country and the region’s only dedicated centre for ophthalmology care. 

Clinical Director for Ophthalmology services and Consultant Ophthalmologist Mr Jean-Pierre Danjoux said: “Staff at the Eye Infirmary are absolutely thrilled at the prospect of a brand new hospital as there is no doubt that our current building is dated and no longer fit for purpose. The services we offer are nothing short of world class with outstanding patient feedback and they deserve an environment to match.”