THE president of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) has been in Sunderland to see for himself how work is progressing on the city’s award winning seafront.

Phil Williams was shown around the newly restored Grade II listed Roker Pier and Lighthouse, which is due to open to public tours later this year, following a £2.5m restoration by the City Council.

The project, currently nearing completion, has seen the lighthouse and tunnel painstakingly restored and the entire length of the pier resurfaced for the first time in its 113 year history, with the help of  funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Mr Williams is the third high profile visitor to Roker Pier in the last 12 months. In July it featured on the BBC2 programme the Hairy Builder and in February it hosted a visit from the BBC programme Countryfile.

Cabinet Secretary, Councillor Mel Speding said: “Roker Pier and Lighthouse is not only a triumph of Victorian engineering but it’s also one of the city’s best loved landmarks so we’re delighted the President of the Royal Town Planning Institute decided to come and see the restoration for himself.”

“We all know our seafront is very special but it means a great deal to have someone from a national organisation like the Royal Town Planning Institute taking an interest.”

During his visit, Mr Williams was also given a guided tour of Marine Walk, Roker and Seaburn Promenade which won an RTPI award for ‘excellence in planning and design the public realm’ in 2014.

Both schemes feature extensive areas of hard and soft landscaping, bespoke street furniture, new events spaces, viewing areas and lighting and were designed with the help of local people.

Sunderland City Council has spent £10m regenerating its seafront since 2010 with the help of Heritage Lottery and Coastal Communities funding.

Cllr Speding added: “It’s very important to us that we have a welcoming seafront for people to visit and enjoy.

“We also recognise the importance of seaside regeneration to Sunderland’s success which is why we have spent more than £10m on making the seafront more attractive for residents and visitors, with the help of contributions from the HLF and Coastal Communities Fund.”

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