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New Wear Footbridge moves ahead

14 March, 2023

Sunderland's striking new city centre footbridge is set to advance, with Cabinet expected to approve proposals at a meeting this week [March 16].

Final plans for a high-level pedestrian and cycle bridge crossing the Wear, continuing the Keel Line from The Beam to the Sheepfolds, are set to be green-lit, with Volker Stevin - the preferred supplier - expected to begin work within weeks. 

Plans for the bridge were originally unveiled in 2019, with outline planning consent granted in 2021, and the council has been developing proposals with a team of architects and engineers to finalise the design of an elegant, contemporary bridge that will frame the Wearmouth Bridge and complement the changing cityscape at Riverside Sunderland

Architectural lighting will illuminate the exterior of the bridge and smart features such as augmented and virtual reality will create an interactive public space and an educational and tourist attraction.

The bridge will improve connectivity between the city centre and the Stadium of Light enhancing the visitor experience on matchdays and for large concerts and events such as Expo Sunderland. It will also help to unlock development in the Sheepfolds neighbourhood, where a community of 500 high quality sustainable new homes will enhance the city centre housing offer.

The project will also include the delivery of critical infrastructure that will support the roll out of the city's high-speed fibre, 5G WiFi, and low carbon energy networks and will see the preservation and enhancement of the riverside embankments and public realm within Riverside Park.

Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: "We're delighted to be moving through the final phase of scoping and design, and ready to commence works on a bridge that is a key component of our plans for Riverside Sunderland.

"The bridge is a key connector as we advance plans both sides of the river, so I am very much looking forward to seeing Volker Stevin break ground in a matter of weeks, with a view to the bridge opening in 2025."

The new crossing will boast stunning vistas across the river and out to sea, and will provide a direct route over to the Stadium of Light and Beacon of Light, as well as the regenerated Grade II Stables - which is currently being transformed into a leisure hub - and the new British Esports Performance Campus, both of which will open later this year. 

The crossing was warmly welcomed by Sunderland AFC players past and present when plans were revealed and the bridge will significantly improve the accessibility of the stadium on matchdays.

Cllr Miller added: "There can be no mistaking the level of ambition we have for Riverside Sunderland, and the pace of change in this part of the city is remarkable.  This bridge will be a real centrepiece, with a beautiful simplicity that allows for unspoilt views over the river and to the transforming landscape on both sides of it."

The crossing is just one of a number of major developments revealed in the Riverside Sunderland Masterplan.  Other key highlights include 1,000 sustainable homes to rent and buy, in four stunning riverside neighbourhoods, housing 2,500 residents; one million sq ft of modern office space, in a new central business district, providing up to 10,000 new jobs; a state-of-the-art immersive community hub - the Culture House - that will attract 600,000 visitors a year to a new site in Keel Square and the upgrading of St Mary's Boulevard into a stylish new main street.

To find out more about Riverside Sunderland, and to keep up to date with the latest developments, visit www.riversidesunderland.com.

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