Connectivity to the Stadium of Light will be improved by the bridge. Credit: planning documents

Footbridge primed for Riverside Sunderland

The high-level bridge, which will link the Sheepfolds to the Vaux site across the River Wear, is to be signed off by the council’s cabinet this week.

Preferred supplier Volker Stevin is expected to start work within weeks on the pedestrian and cycle bridge, which continues the Keel Line from The Beam to the Sheepfolds.

The professional team includes DPP Planning, Atkins, DWS, NJD and MWA.

Plans for the bridge were originally unveiled in 2019, with outline planning consent granted in 2021 – since which time designs have been enhanced.

Architectural lighting will illuminate the exterior of the bridge and 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 homes is proposed.

A further low-level bridge is also proposed close to the high-level crossing.

Cllr 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 existing Wearmouth Bridge could soon have two new neighbouring crossings. Credit: planning documents

Along with the football stadium, other sites that will benefit by the increased connectivity include the regenerated grade two-listed Stables leisure hub and the new British Esports Performance Campus, both of which will open later this year.

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 wider Riverside masterplan includes 1,000 homes across four neighbourhoods, 1m sq ft of office space, the Culture House immersive community hub in Keel Square, and the upgrading of St Mary’s Boulevard into a main street.

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