Restoration works begin in Sunderland City Centre

Written by on 20th February 2018

Work is about to get underway on a group of derelict Grade II listed properties on High Street West, in Sunderland, including the original site of Binns department store, following a repair grant from Historic England.

The restoration of 170 -175 High Street West comes after the buildings have been derelict for a number of years but there has long been a desire from the local community to preserve them.

The project is part of Sunderland Historic High Streets Heritage Action Zone, a partnership scheme led by Historic England and Sunderland City Council which began last year when the area was awarded Heritage Action Zone status.

Through the project, the council bought the buildings and passed their ownership to Tyne and Wear Building Preservation Trust so that they can be repaired and brought back into use.

The repair grant from Historic England will allow emergency repairs to be carried out to consolidate the buildings while funding is sought for the full conservation and conversion scheme.

Further plans for the buildings will be released by Tyne and Wear Building Preservation Trust in the coming weeks.

As part of the emergency repairs, road closures will be in place on High Street West and Little Villiers Street to allow work to take place safely.

The road outside the buildings on High Street West will be closed from 19th February for 7 days and the road to the rear of the building on Little Villiers Street will be closed from 19th February for 21 days.

Martin Hulse, Trust Manager, said: “For the past two years the Trust have been working in partnership with Sunderland City Council to acquire these buildings.”

“It is quite clear this is the last chance to save these buildings, two of which were built in 1815 and are a crucial part of Sunderland’s history. They are currently an eyesore and the immediate job is to make them safe and improve their appearance.”

The project aims to transform Sunderland’s high street heritage, building on previous work by the council and local partners to revive historic Sunderland and reconnect it with the modern city centre.

Through the project, building improvements have already been secured on Fawcett Street and High Street West, with Sunderland City Council working alongside building owners to ensure better upkeep of historic properties.

Image: Yellow marks where the works take place. Credit – Google Maps

While assessments of Hutchinsons Buildings (Mackie’s Corner), the Athenaeum building on Fawcett Street, and Phoenix Masonic Hall on Queen Street have taken place to help understand the wider significance of the historic areas of the city centre.

An ongoing Heritage Schools project has already resulted in a teacher training event in January as well as funding three Sunderland schools to undertake local history projects with local heritage providers in the city.

Catherine Dewar, Historic England’s Planning Director for the North East and North West said: “I’ve been aware of these important buildings in Sunderland for many years, first visiting them nearly 10 years ago. “

”They are an important part of Sunderland’s heritage and help to tell the story of how the city developed. We are delighted to be working with the Tyne and Wear Building Preservation Trust and Sunderland Council to ensure that these special buildings are repaired as part of Sunderland’s Heritage Action Zone.”

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