A massive figure of more than £1.3bn is committed over seven years to build new developments and infrastructure projects which will transform Sunderland and create a strong platform for long-term growth.
The city’s 3, 6, 9 Vision document, published in 2017, sets out details of how Sunderland’s strategy and action programme is set to dramatically change the cityscape, create thousands of new jobs, and boost the city’s cultural impact.
The city, with a blueprint for future growth, is already celebrating success with major projects now underway such as the Vaux development in the city centre, Northern Spire - the new bridge over the River Wear, and the International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP), all of which will create thousands of new jobs and open major new opportunities for people who live and work in the city and North East region.
There are now 87 overseas companies from twenty different countries, together employing 26,700 people thriving in Sunderland. In 2017 more than 1,100 jobs were created and £75m of capital investment secured from companies setting up or expanding in the city.
Construction of the first phase of the city centre’s Vaux development will complete in summer 2018 which will create high quality Grade A office accommodation in the heart of the city centre, complementing the city’s existing offer at Doxford International and Rainton Bridge.
The pace of change at Sunderland is unrelenting. The five phase Sunderland Strategic Transport Corridor is now well into its second phase. St Mary’s Boulevard has created an attractive, accessible tree-lined route into the city, and the new Northern Spire - named to reflect the 100m, 1,550 tonne pylon which forms the centrepiece of the bridge - is already dominating the river. The third phase, the £61m dual carriageway will connect Northern Spire with the city centre. It will begin in 2018 and be complete in 2021.
The International Advanced Manufacturing Park, following planning permission, will begin to be developed in partnership with South Tyneside Council, in 2018. It will create over 5,000 job opportunities. and bring in more than £400m of private sector investment during the next decade or so by attracting a wide range of international companies to invest in the area.
The municipally owned Port of Sunderland, which celebrated its 300th anniversary in 2017, saw cargo numbers hit record levels. Total cargo passing through the port rose by 25% during the first half of 2017, and exports also rose during the same period compared to 2016. The results come after significant investment that has included the purchase of two cranes, major improvements to the port estate and new warehousing. A previously decommissioned rail line has also been reconnected into the heart of the port.
Work has started on Sunderland’s arts and entertainment complex which will form the centrepiece of a new cultural quarter. The Old Fire Station off High Street West opened in November 2017 after being redeveloped into a £3m restaurant, meeting room, heritage centre and dance and drama studio. This newest development will be enhanced with an adjoining brand-new music, theatre and comedy venue The Auditorium, opening in 2019.
Businesses are investing in the city across key sectors. In the last five years Sunderland’s automotive companies created 3,742 new jobs, invested £917m and built two million sq.ft. of new floorspace on 88 acres of land.
The sustainability of the big names already based in Sunderland – such as Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems, Vantec Europe Ltd, Lear Corporation and Liebherr – is matched by a host of smaller, innovative, technology-led local companies setting up and growing strongly across its many business locations.
The city also scooped two accolades in 2017 from Tech Nation and Barclays’ SME Growth Factors Index, confirming that Sunderland is one of the best places in the UK to start and grow a business. They reported that the turnover of the city’s digital tech businesses grew by 101% between 2011 and 2015, and support over 5,700 jobs. The Barclays Index also reflected high rankings for business survival rate and broadband speed.
And with approval by the City Council’s Cabinet to invest an additional £60m into major capital projects designed to drive forward the city’s economic regeneration and job growth by developing strategic assets, improving infrastructure, and encouraging inward investment, Sunderland is creating great conditions for growth.
Cllr Harry Trueman, Deputy Leader of Sunderland City Council said: “Smart, sustainable Sunderland is a growing reality, one which we are all determined to continue to invest in to bring new opportunities to the people who live and work in the city, and to secure our position worldwide as a first-choice location for business investment.”
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