Former Sunderland department store acquired by council

10th July 2023 | Jack Oliver

Sunderland City Council has taken ownership of a former high street department store, with plans to attract retailers and food and beverage (F&B) operators to the site.

Jopling House was transformed into student accommodation five years ago, with some suggestions the building could be repurposed or sold.

However, the Council has said that the acquisition will allow the building to keep its current use, albeit with a number of changes.

Sunderland City Council has said the former department store will be improved at ground floor level, as it aims to bring retailers and F&B operators into the building, while its upper levels will also see investment into an improved fascia which was left unfinished by its previous owner.

The 140-apartment building sits between two areas going through a number of transformations: Riverside Sunderland and Sunniside.

Councillor Kevin Johnston, dynamic city cabinet member at Sunderland City Council, said: “We cannot buy or develop every single building in the city centre, but what we can do is nurture an environment in which our traders are given the best possible chance of success, by ensuring the right developments move forward and with our plans for Sunniside – which will see the development of a new cluster of creative studio-homes – we want to knit this into the transforming Riverside Sunderland area and ensure the quality of offer in the city centre is as high as possible.”

“We do not plan to make any changes to the use of the building but will look to drive investment that will regenerate its ground floor, creating a vibrant high street that complements the transformation underway on the doorstep. We’re determined that Riverside Sunderland is a stimulus for a whole-city-centre regeneration and that we connect surrounding areas into it,” he added.


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