ONE of the most significant developments in Sunderland’s history has completion in sight, after reaching a construction milestone on Friday [October 6].
The first building to occupy the former Vaux Brewery site – delivered by city regeneration organisation Siglion – seen its final panes of glass installed on Friday, after ten months on site.
The building, which will become a 60,000sq ft mixed-use space, primarily offering office space as well as some leisure provision, is being constructed by Carillion and is expected to be completed by summer next year.
Friday’s ‘glazing out’ is a milestone for a site that Sunderland City Council has long-considered the most important development in the city. The council, working with the Homes and Communities Agency, purchased the site from Tesco in February 2011. Tesco had owned the site since 2001. The council came together with Carillion in 2014, to form Siglion – which is managed by Igloo Regeneration – in order to spur on regeneration of the site, as well as four other key locations in Sunderland.
Councillor Harry Trueman, Deputy Leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “It is absolutely fantastic to be standing here today, putting in place one of the final pieces of the jigsaw for this building – one of a number that will transform this important site.
“Vaux represents a truly special development proposition and one that will extend the footprint of the city centre, contributing to a richer, more vibrant Sunderland that we all can enjoy. Today’s a really important step forward for the site and for the city.”
He added that the building itself would be a driver for further economic growth in the city.
“Sunderland is home to a thriving knowledge economy, and this is something that can only be supported by the ready availability of attractive business locations that will appeal to ambitious companies. Vaux will provide just that, a cosmopolitan, contemporary city centre space that will draw the interest of both occupiers and investors.”
The building, which got underway in December, stands five storeys high, and has views extending over the city centre and the Wearmouth Bridge. The building is heavily glazed and will soon see the outside shell fitted with bronze-coloured brise soleil, which hang off the façade, giving it an even more striking look.
John Seager, chief executive of Siglion, said: “This building is a really striking one, and it is visible across the city, a symbol of the rapid rate of change that Sunderland is seeing in terms of the development of its built environment.
“We are absolutely delighted to be here today to mark this significant milestone, and look forward to returning on site in a matter of months, when the building is complete and ready to be fitted out.”
Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott joined representatives from Sunderland City Council, Siglion, Igloo, Carillion, and agents Knight Frank and Naylors, for the glazing out ceremony.
She said: “Sunderland’s city centre has enjoyed a wave of investment, with Keel Square, High Street West and the Cultural Quarter all undergoing multi-million-pound improvement projects.
“We’re seeing unprecedented change across Sunderland, with £1.3bn of investment going into the city, and flagship developments like Vaux send out a clear message – Sunderland is open for business. I am thrilled to be here for the glazing out of Vaux’s first building and look forward to seeing it open in the summer.”
Michael Rutherford, senior project manager at Carillion, said: “Work has progressed well on this landmark building and today marks another significant step towards completion next year.
“Carillion is proud to be playing an important part in this major regeneration project which will greatly benefit Sunderland and the wider North East.”
Architects Field Clegg Bradley Studios designed the building, a practice that is renowned for delivering buildings with excellent environmental credentials.
As well, the work on the first Vaux building, the green light was also given, earlier this year, to The Launch, a symbolic new structure that will celebrate Sunderland’s shipbuilding heritage. Standing 25 meters tall when complete, the giant metal structure will look over the Wear, to commemorate the city’s shipbuilding heritage.