The Southern Gateway & Water Gardens are a feature area. Credit: via Creo

Sunderland fleshes out plans for Riverside Park

Detail has been added to the council’s proposals for the phased delivery of parkland across 32 acres on the banks of the River Wear.

Sunderland City Council said that the park, at the heart of the Riverside Sunderland regeneration zone, will bring green accessible spaces, water gardens providing a new habitat for plants and animals and accessible pathways to the area.

More than 32 acres of biodiverse parkland will be redeveloped across Riverside Sunderland, with the proposals for phase one now signed off at the 14 March cabinet meeting.

The plans include the Southern Gateway & Water Gardens, a haven for nature, habitat and ecology; Kingsley Gardens, a new community garden and growing space; while a flexible social and event space will be created in Galley’s Gill by summer 2025.

Cllr Kevin Johnston, portfolio holder for dynamic city at Sunderland City Council, said the plans would add an exciting new dimension to a transforming city centre.

He said: “These are exciting times at Riverside Sunderland, with the built environment transforming day by day. Surrounding these developments are swathes of parkland which have such immense potential and transforming them into community assets will support healthier lives for the people who live, work, and play in the city centre.”

The Southern Gateway and Water Gardens will feature natural stone boundary walls, attractive walkways, and ponds, enhancing biodiversity and sustainability and creating a sculptured landscape and new natural habitats.

The area will also feature terraced seating with feature lighting and planting.

Kingsley Gardens, also to be delivered by summer 2025 is intended as a key community space within Riverside Park, providing a growing and gardening hub for residents from a growing city centre residential community. It will include allotments, a community orchard, and landscaping. The space will be a focal point for the Expo Sunderland event.

Kingsley Gardens will offer allotments and orchard space for incoming residents in the Riverside Sunderland area. Credit: via Creo

Finally, a large social and event space will be created between the Gill Bridge and the river corridor, comprising areas to relax and socialise, as well as locations that are designed to accommodate pop-up events and activations that bring the space to life and attract footfall to the park.

These will be delivered under the first phase of work, with longer term ambitions including the delivery of a play area, skate park and riverside café; the formation of a visitor attraction in the former railway tunnel portals; the creation of an ornamental garden which is inspired by and showcases the local geology and flora; and the creation of a new riverside amphitheatre providing seating and views of the river and an attractive area to watch performances and events hosted on the river and the north bank.

The overarching goal is for Riverside Park to eventually become a network of green spaces and corridors as Sunderland looks to become a more sustainable city.

Cllr Johnston added: “We are transforming our city – and there is a golden thread through all that we do when it comes to sustainability and promoting good health. Riverside Park really exemplifies that and we can’t wait to see this project advance.”

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