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Sunderland council backs £61m move to new cost-effective headquarters

A city council has backed £61m proposals for a new, smaller and more cost-effective headquarters as a “catalyst for regeneration” in Sunderland.

Cabinet members at Sunderland City Council have approved the business case to move the authority and around 1,200 staff from its current HQ to the Vaux brownfield site.

The council says the project will deliver net operational savings of £22.1m over the next 25 years compared to staying in the current civic centre off Burton Road, which it says is set to become “obsolete” in the next five years.

The new HQ will be made up of two office blocks linked by a central atrium fronting onto Keel Square.

The site will provide a single base for 1,200 council staff currently spread across eight different locations, and the council said it will “pave the way for a city centre Sunderland can be proud of.”

Graeme Miller, the leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “This is a major step forward for the plans which are crucial to the regeneration of the city centre.

“Building a new base on the landmark VAUX site is a mark of confidence to other investors, signalling to private sector developers that Sunderland is a good place to invest.

“This move represents the most cost effective, quickest and most beneficial move in terms of helping the city centre and it will free up the current civic centre site for new homes helping generate extra footfall in the city centre.”

The plans for a new HQ were first unveiled in October, and subject to the plans receiving planning approval, construction is due to begin on the site later this year with an estimated completion date of 2021.

A number of public sector partners have also decided to share space in the new building, which has seen the planned size of the new building increase by a third – reflected in the £61m cost of the scheme.

The council said it is part of a programme of £500m investment going into the city centre up until 2030.

The ‘city centre vision’ includes the development of a new railway station on the VAUX site, a new footbridge, and new homes along the riverside and on the current Civic Centre site.


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