Improved public realm in shadow of Empire

A pretty new pedestrian pathway is set to take shape in the shadow of the Sunderland Empire.

Work is underway on a small area of public realm, that will pedestrianise the road between the Empire and the historic Dun Cow public house, creating an attractive new walkway connecting into the city centre.

Garden Place, which is due to complete by summer, will provide a pretty new pathway, that will lead from St Mary’s Boulevard into High Street West and the Minster Quarter.

The improvements, which are being led by Sunderland City Council, will include the planting of semi-mature trees, the placement of reclaimed cobbled setts that will be quarried from Dun Cow Street, and the addition of large planters and seating areas to create a focal point for people passing through.

Peter McIntyre, executive director of city development at Sunderland City Council, said:

“The Minster Quarter – part of Riverside Sunderland – is absolutely transforming and is becoming a real focal point of the city centre.

“We are keen to underline the private sector investment that is going into the area, by delivering public realm that really does elevate the area.

“With work completed on Minster Park’s stunning transformation – as well as the Dun Cow and Peacock’s restoration – and the Auditorium taking shape, we’re keen to deliver public realm and pedestrian routes that respond to the broader context of the area, and help reimagine the way the space will be occupied by visitors.”

The Garden Place improvements are part of a raft of city centre works being led by the council as it sets out to transform Riverside Sunderland into a vibrant destination to live, work and play. Plans for the area are progressing at pace, with a Holiday Inn Hotel under construction on Keel Square, as well as the Arts Council funded Auditorium, which is taking shape next to the Fire Station. It follows investment through the £3m Bishopwearmouth Townscape Heritage Scheme supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Sunderland City Council – that has funded major improvements to nearby Minster Park, along with grants for improvements to historic buildings like the Dun Cow and Peacock and more projects planned for 2021.

And it is only the beginning. The council revealed its masterplan for Riverside Sunderland last month, a vision that will deliver:

  • 1,000 sustainable homes to rent and buy, in four stunning riverside neighbourhoods, housing 2,500 residents
  • One million sq ft of modern office space, in a new central business district, providing 8 – 10,000 new jobs
  • a new city centre site for a major life sciences / healthcare facility
  • Plans for a state-of-the-art library and community hub – the Culture House – that will attract 600,000 visitors a year to a new site in Keel Square
  • The upgrading of St Mary’s Boulevard into a stylish new main street, and the construction of new connectivity for walkers and cyclists across the River Wear
  • Transformation of Galley’s Gill into a superb landscape park, and new green spaces in the heart of the city
  • Smart City infrastructure, that will make Sunderland an even better place to live, work and play.
    In 2023, Riverside Sunderland will host the month-long Sunderland Future Living Expo, a high-profile event which will showcase life in the new urban quarter. UK and international visitors will be drawn to the first of the new neighbourhoods on the former Vaux site.

To stay up to date with the latest developments from Riverside Sunderland, visit or follow @RiversideSund

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