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SUNDERLAND CITY COUNCIL: Houghton Tesco and Home Bargains update

SUNDERLAND CITY COUNCIL: Houghton Tesco and Home Bargains update

Houghton Colliery site Picture: Google Maps

Plans to transform the former Houghton Colliery site into a shopping hub could be given the stamp of approval next week.

Back in 2019, Sunderland City Council’s ruling cabinet agreed to dispose of land off Newbottle Street to progress a major regeneration scheme in the Houghton ward.

The multi-million pound development is expected to revive the former colliery site while creating scores of retail and construction jobs in the process.

Next week, Sunderland City Council’s Planning and Highways (West) Committee will discuss the scheme, which has been recommended for approval by planning officers.

The site includes an area of around 4.4 hectares near Houghton-le-Spring town centre and occupiers have already been announced for the large retail units.

This includes a Tesco foodstore with 4,218 square metres gross floor space, a Home Bargains store with 1,860 square metres gross floor space and a filling station.

The proposed petrol station and jet wash would be operated by Tesco, with the wider site offering car parking spaces, accessible spaces, parent and child spaces, cycle facilities and nine electric vehicle charging points.

A new area of public open space is also planned at the south-eastern end of the former colliery site, to act as an” interface” between the proposed development and Houghton-le-Spring town centre.

Houghton Colliery closed in the early 1980s and the site was subsequently grassed and planted over and has remained undeveloped since.

Planners state that the proposed commercial development on the land would help to “complement and extend Houghton-le-Spring town centre.”

According to planning documents, the plans would create around 100 jobs and ‘spin-off’ employment to local businesses, others in the supply chain and construction employment during building works.

A planning report prepared for councillors reads: “The sequential assessment and retail impact assessment submitted with the planning application have been carefully considered by the council […] and it can be concluded that there is no sequentially preferable site for the development and that the proposals will not have a significant adverse impact on the vitality and viability of Houghton town centre, or any other local centres in the Coalfields.

“Indeed, given the anticipated clawback of expenditure which currently leaks from the Coalfields, it is considered that the development is likely to result in benefits to the town centre in terms of increasing expenditure and creating linked trips to existing businesses.

“The development will also serve to improve both the comparison and convenience goods offer in the Coalfields area.”

The planning application originally proposed a development with a discount food store, a terrace of large-format retail units, a drive-thru restaurant and  small retail units.

However at the request of applicant Hellens Land Ltd, the development was amended to accommodate two large units and a petrol filling station.

Key matters linked to the new proposals, such as highway safety and ecology, will be discussed by the Planning and Highways (West) Committee next week.

Councillors on the panel will meet in Sunderland Civic Centre’s council chamber on Tuesday, November 30.

The meeting starts at 5.30pm and is open to the public.

For more information on the application, visit Sunderland City Council’s planning portal and search reference: 20/01591/FU4

Words: Chris Binding, Local Democracy Reporter


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