Cllr Graeme Miller, left, wished Arif Mushtaq well for Ashbrookes in the city. Credit: via Creo

Developer pushes on with Job Centre conversion

Ashbrookes has opened a Sunderland office for its estate agency business on the ground floor, and wants to add 78 student apartments to three floors above, two of the floors new-build additions.

This is Ashbrookes’ first venture into Sunderland, following operations established in Middlesbrough, Yarm and Acklam.

With the office open and works in progress to prepare the building’s first floor, the company is working towards a planning consent from Sunderland City Council to progress phase two.

This would see a further two floors added, bringing the building into line with its neighbours, and allow the firm to develop 78 student apartments.

Ashbrookes also said that it will transform the exterior façade by recladding it to look “fresh and more modern”.

Ashbrookes is a residential sales and lettings estate agency which also specialises in property management and property development. The group is currently renovating or building three projects in Middlesborough focused on student accommodation, with 200+ studios in the pipeline for the 2024/2025 academic year.

The plan for Sunderland is for the first wave of apartments will be available by 1 September, with the second wave finished and available by January 2025.

Arif Mushtaq, managing director of Ashbrookes, said: “We are delighted to be opening our first estate agency branch in the city.

“The new Sunderland agency has already created five jobs with more hopefully in the pipeline as we continue to increase our presence in the city.

“Once development is underway, it will generate a further 70 construction jobs.”

Ashbrookes was motivated by proximity to the University of Sunderland’s two main campuses, said Mushtaq: “What really attracted us to the development was the area. We have delivered numerous student accommodation developments across the North East and this site just ticked all of the boxes.

“It’s got big, wide open floors, lending itself nicely to being converted into accommodation, plus being lower than the adjoining buildings also made it extendable, which is rare for such a prime city centre site.

“It is also ideally located for students studying at either University of Sunderland campus. The feedback we’ve received so far in response to turning the building into high quality business space and student accommodation has been really heartening.

“The lack of on-campus accommodation for students has resulted in the UK suffering from a huge dearth in student accommodation and Sunderland is no different.

“If the issue isn’t addressed, then we stand a real chance of students choosing to study elsewhere, which would deal a huge economic blow to the city and its wider areas.

Cllr Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “It is great to see Ashbrookes further strengthening the city centre offering by bringing their award-winning property business to the city.

“As a City Council, we are always keen to do all we can to encourage business investment and create a more resilient economy and working with partners such as Arif – who is committing to investing in the long-term future of the city – is key to that.

“I’d like to wish them all the best with their proposals and look forward to working with them as they continue to invest in the city.”

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