NEXT STEPS in plans to use Coastal Communities funding to forge ahead with the ongoing transformation of Sunderland’s Seafront are being discussed by the City Council’s Cabinet this week.

This follows the success earlier this year of a joint bid by Sunderland City Council and Sunderland Culture to convert little used seafront buildings into new cafes and restaurants and to support the continued growth of the city’s cultural sector.

The £820,000 grant funding contribution will allow the council to go ahead with plans for the conversion of the old Tram Shelter and former Bay Shelter at Seaburn into cafes/restaurants along with a former toilet block at Roker, and to seek tenants to operate these.

It will also fund the building of 12 beach huts on the promenade north of the House of Zen at Seaburn and upgrading the infrastructure at Seaburn Camp for touring caravans.

The report also proposes expansion of the role of the Sunderland Seafront Trust, which is currently the governing body for the Roker Heritage Group, with a view to it managing the assets developed with the help of the Coastal Communities funding and reinvesting the income generated back into the seafront.

Councillor Rebecca Atkinson, Cabinet Member for Housing and Regeneration, said: “We had a huge amount of positive public interest in our plans when we first secured Coastal Communities funding in March and this is all about taking those plans forward and turning them into reality for the benefit of everyone who uses the seafront.

“We believe the expansion of the charitable seafront trust whose volunteers already run the popular pier and lighthouse tours, will also make a real difference and the next steps are to develop the full business plan and operating model. We see their role as working with local the local community, businesses and partners to maximise the opportunities from these seafront assets and reinvest any profits back into the seafront.

“These transformed buildings, together with the beach huts and improved caravan facilities will be another great addition to our seaside, complementing what’s already there and the plans for the Seaburn Stack later this year.

“It’s all part of our ongoing efforts to make the most of our beautiful beaches and seafront, which have seen £10m invested in the regeneration of the seafront since 2010.”

The funding will also support the continued growth of the city’s cultural sector with Sunderland Culture working in partnership with the North East Business and Innovation Centre, Sunderland Software City and Sunderland BME Network.

Rebecca Ball, Creative Director for Sunderland Culture, said: “We’re delighted that Sunderland’s Coastal Communities Fund project has been given the green light.

“This comes at just the right time for the city, as there is real impetus around the growth of Sunderland’s cultural sector at the moment.

“This investment will help support the growth of a cluster of creative entrepreneurs, artists and creative businesses and deliver events, workshops, skills development – including business support, residencies and mentoring opportunities. We know it will make a real difference to our creative graduates, start-ups and existing SMEs across the city.”

“Sunderland is a city built on partnerships – and we are delighted to be working with Sunderland City Council and other city partners on this project.”

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