A derelict Grade II listed building in Sunderland is to be transformed into a £2m spectacular leisure and events destination

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Visionary plans submitted to transform Grade II Listed Stables at Sheepfolds into lucrative £2m new venue!



A stunning new leisure and events destination is planned for Sunderland, as the city’s riverside continues to transform. 

Visionary plans to breathe new life into the former Grade II Listed Stables at Sheepfolds have been revealed, showing virtually derelict buildings that surround a large yard to the southern-west corner of the industrial site transformed into an exciting new food, drink and leisure venue. 

Music and performance on a large outdoor stage as well as an open-air yard which will play host to pop-up events, markets and daytime activity, will create a remarkable new place for residents and visitors to enjoy. 

The venue will be connected to the city centre by the new Wear footbridge that will provide a pedestrian and cyclist crossing between Sheepfolds and the former Vaux Brewery site, both of which are being spectacularly reimagined as part of Sunderland City Council’s Riverside Sunderland delivery plan. 

The project to restore the building is being led by Building Design Northern (BDN), the same company that is just days from completing the tasteful regeneration of the former Grade II Listed Simpson Street School in Deptford, which the company has made its new HQ. 

BDN’s plans for the Sheepfolds building, which have been submitted to the city council for approval, include eight shop-fronted units, which are expected to attract cafe, restaurant and retail operators, as well as two open courtyards, providing attractive outdoor spaces for events and entertainment.  

They will look to run a range of events, markets and concerts in the venue, which will draw visitors from the city and beyond.  

The Sunderland firm has agreed on a deal that will see the Stables building, which was previously owned by Edward Thompsons, undergo a £2million renovation, in time to open its doors in 2023 as a brand-new leisure destination for the city. 

An architect, civil and structural engineering firm, BDN bought the Old Simpson Street School in 2019, and is just about to take the eight apartments it has created in the building to market for rent.  

The Sheepfolds building is one of a string of significant developments the business has led in Sunderland, including the exclusive Spire View housing development off Durham Road.  


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‘ A new destination venue and key attraction for the city’



Richard Marsden, managing director at BDN, said the firm was delighted to be leading a second major development in Sunderland. 

He said: “We’re proud to be a Sunderland business and to be playing a part in the transformation of a city that has such a bright future. 

“The change we are seeing at Riverside Sunderland is undeniable – as is the level of ambition and confidence of businesses like ours and others investing here, as well as the council, to deliver fantastic developments that bring more people into the city. 

“We can’t wait to share more as plans take shape and the building transforms.”


Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: 

“Riverside Sunderland is transforming with some hugely exciting projects in the pipeline that really are putting the city centre on the map and helping us create a brilliant place to live, work and play in the heart of the city.  

“Sheepfolds is an area with vast potential, and creating a destination venue that will not only appeal to people on matchdays, but will form a key attraction both by day and by night is something that will kick off the reinvention of the whole area.  

We’re thrilled to see these plans being brought forward by a Sunderland business that wants to invest in and improve the city.” 


The plans should go before the city council’s planning committee during the first half of 2022, and if planning permission is granted, work will start on the redevelopment of the space with a view to it opening its doors during 2023.  

Businesses interested in finding out about the retail and commercial spaces within the building should contact Rochelle Richardson at BDN, at [email protected] or by calling 0191 535 6189.


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