A PILOT project will launch in Sunderland next week (May 16) to improve rundown properties in the city centre.
Led by Sunderland BID, the Vacant Property Visual Improvement scheme will initially concentrate on one shop at High Street West, which will undergo an internal two week transformation.
The BID has joined forces with Sunderland College and Gentoo to pioneer the scheme, which will see ten students on the college’s painting and decorating course get the chance to gain some valuable “on the job” experience.
Gentoo is supporting the venture, providing resources and access to an experienced supervisor to work with the students.
“This is a great opportunity to improve the look of some of the city centre premises as part of a partnership from which everyone benefits,” said Ken Dunbar, Chief Executive of Sunderland BID.
“The college students get real experience of working in a commercial environment and we are able to help improve the look of an empty building to make it more commercially viable and hopefully benefit the whole area.”
The former Game store has been vacant for around a year and if this pilot initiative, which is not incurring any costs, is successful, it will be considered for other vacant properties in need of a facelift across the city.
Iain Nixon, Executive Director of Commercial Activity at Sunderland College said the students were delighted to be involved.
“We didn’t hesitate to get involved in the Bid’s vacant property project,” he said.
“This is a great opportunity for our students to gain valuable work experience outside of the classroom, which will enhance their learning.
“It is fantastic that our students will be part of a project dedicated to the regeneration of the city centre in the run-up to the opening of our City Campus in September.”
Ian Porter, Executive Director of Asset & Investment, Gentoo, added: “We are delighted to be part of a partnership that will bring benefits to our city centre.
Gentoo is committed to providing new learning opportunities for people and this is a great way for our experienced staff to pass on knowledge and share skills.”