Almost £1 billion has already been invested in Sunderland since 2015 as part of a masterplan aimed at boosting jobs, infrastructure and cultural assets in the city, new figures show.
Looking ahead, a further £626m of spending is due to flow into the city by 2024.
An update on Sunderland’s 3,6,9 Vision – launched by key stakeholders in the city in 2015 with the aim of transforming it as a place to live and work – reveals remarkable progress so far.
It also demonstrates significant commitment from the private sector in the city, including more development in the city centre.
The 3,6,9 Vision was drawn up by Sunderland’s Economic Leadership Board, which includes Sunderland City Council, Siglion, the University of Sunderland, Sunderland College, Gentoo, City Hospitals and the North East BiC. It also brings together a number of city-based businesses.
The plan was designed to plot a strategy and action programme which would dramatically change the cityscape, create thousands of jobs and nurture the city’s cultural profile.
Of the many infrastructural, business and housing projects set out in the plan, developments worth an estimated £927.4m have either been completed or commenced since 2015. More than 5000 jobs have been created in that time, according to newly collected data from Sunderland City Council.
Investments which have helped to transform Sunderland’s skyline since the 3,6,9 Vision was launched include the Northern Spire bridge over the Wear, work on the Vaux Brewery site, continued investment in Port of Sunderland, and the development of a £3m restaurant, café, heritage centre and dance studio at the Old Fire Station off High Street West.
By 2024, a further £626m worth of development is planned in the city.
Councillor Harry Trueman, Leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “Great progress has been made so far in enhancing Sunderland as a place to live and work and in unlocking its huge potential through the 3,6,9 Vision.
“Of course we recognise that much more work and vital investment is needed, especially in speeding up the transformation of the city centre. However, the eagerness of businesses and investors to be part of Sunderland’s growth and redevelopment, and the many projects planned, give us plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the future of the city.”
Projects due to begin in the near future include the nationally significant International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP) and the new £8.2m 450-seater cultural auditorium in the city’s emerging music, arts and cultural quarter.
Sunderland Railway Station is also due to undergo a £13.7m redevelopment, while an extension to the Bridges Shopping Centre development will see a new retail development built on the former site of Crowtree Leisure Centre. Several major housing developments are also in the pipeline.
Extensive improvements have also been made to the city’s transport infrastructure. Work on a £57m dual carriageway linking the city centre and the Port of Sunderland gets underway this year as phase three of the Sunderland Strategic Transport Corridor.
Business expansion in the city is also generating new jobs and investment. Technology firm AR Controls recently moved into a new £600,000 headquarters at Sunrise Enterprise Park to facilitate its growth, while car parts maker Unipres last year opened a £500,000 training academy in Sunderland.
Another success was US automotive giant Lear Corporation’s decision to locate its European research and development (R&D) division in Sunderland, against competition from across Europe. The company announced plans to build a £1.5m extension to its Sunderland base for R&D work as a result.
Other growing firms in Sunderland include Pakway, which transforms waste plastic bottles into packaging and will this year double its capacity. Similarly, Sunderland-based drinks and bottling company Clearly Drinks is investing its future in the city. Having taken over a 21,000 sq ft building at Riverside Road for warehousing and extra capacity last year, it saw strong growth in production and staffing levels.