Faithful+Gould Helps to Revive the Forgotten Merchant City of Sunderland

Dale Potts
The Stockton-on-Tees office of international project management and cost consultants Faithful+Gould has reached the completion of two projects which have played a vital role in the revival of the former merchant city of Sunderland.

This area of the city is so-called because between 1939 and 1945 the Wear ship yards launched 245 merchant ships totalling 1.5 million tons, a quarter of the merchant tonnage produced in the UK during this period.

Working for not-for-profit organisation, Sunniside Partnership, which has a remit to improve the historic quarter of Sunderland City Centre, known as Sunniside, Faithful+Gould was appointed to provide project management support to two schemes which make up a wider £130 million regeneration project to transform the city into a thriving mixed-use urban quarter. Sunniside Partnership is funded by One NorthEast, English Partnerships, Sunderland City Council and TyneWear Partnership.

Successfully delivering Sunniside Gardens and undertaking an ongoing management role of ThePlace, which are valued at £2 million and £6 million respectively, Faithful+Gould’s team additionally secured and managed the various funding streams feeding into the projects.

ThePlace, a business and arts centre, is located at the corner of Athenaeum Street and West Sunniside and is due to be completed in March 2008. The development will provide the regeneration area with a much-needed facility in which to accommodate performance space, art gallery and exhibition spaces, a café, meeting rooms and a range of business suites and artists’ studios.

ThePlace will also comprise six adjoining Grade II Listed properties which overlook the £2 million Sunniside Gardens. Created as part of an ambitious plan to rejuvenate a faded area of the city centre, the Gardens, which opened this month, have created a new landscaped public space for events, cafes and leisure activities. The revitalised space was designed by Robinson Landscape to create a public area with illuminated fountains, attractive seating and artwork.

The improvements to Sunniside Gardens are being supported by TyneWear Partnership, via single programme funding from One NorthEast and English Partnerships.

Project manager Stuart Ainsley said, "Our Stockton office boasts significant experience of delivering major regeneration projects within the north east and continues to play a major part in the ongoing regeneration of Sunderland.

"These projects have presented our project management team with particular challenges, especially in terms of working with key stakeholders to ensure they reach their desired success criteria. Personally, the most interesting aspect of these projects has been seeing the sheer diversity of projects the Sunniside Partnership is co-ordinating and looking at how they fit into the bigger picture of its ambitious city-wide regeneration programme. Faithful+Gould will additionally provide continued consultancy support for as long as the client requires."

Sunniside includes 35 acres of the eastern part of Sunderland city centre and contains the largest concentration of listed buildings, at 160, across the city including many Georgian and Victorian buildings. The area was originally developed as a residential and business district, linking the historic Port and riverside in the settlement of Sunderland to Bishopwearmouth.

Ben Hall, director of Sunniside Partnership, said: "Faithful+Gould’s experience in this field proved, and continues to be, extremely useful to us during the delivery of these two city centre regeneration schemes which have already brought substantial benefits to Sunderland’s business community and residents. We were keen to preserve the integrity of the existing historic buildings and gardens as well as introducing commercial, business and residential uses into a previously neglected part of the city and are absolutely delighted with the results achieved by the team."

Other professional firms working on the projects are:

Sunniside Gardens

  • Contractor: Seymour Civil Engineering Ltd
  • Landscape designer: Robinson Landscape Design
  • Quantity surveyor: Hall & Partners
  • Civil / Highways Engineer: White Young Green

The Place

  • Contractor: Kendall Cross Holdings
  • Architect: Reid Jubb Brown Partnership
  • Structural / Mechanical & Electrical Engineer: Ove Arup
  • Quantity surveyor: Elliot Dent
  • Clerk of works: Robertson Simpson