Plans approved to turn landmark building into flats

A general view of the Somerford Buildings off Norfolk Street in the Sunniside area
Sunderland council has approved plans for 11 self-contained flats at the Somerford Buildings [Google]

Plans to transform a landmark city centre building into flats have been given the green light.

Sunderland City Council has approved an application from Nulite Properties Ltd to turn former office space at the Somerford Buildings off Norfolk Street, into 11 self-contained flats.

The three-storey property at the edge of Sunniside Gardens was built in the early 20th Century and planners said the plans had the potential to contribute to the area's revitalisation.

Approving the project, council planners said the proposed scheme would have "minimal" impact on the "character and sustainability" of the conservation area and would bring the Edwardian Baroque building back into use, preventing it from deteriorating.

A heritage statement submitted to council officials described the Somerford Buildings as a "high-quality" landmark with character, despite not being listed.

'Not a HMO'

The approved housing mix included both one and two-bedroom flats, with some larger two-bedroom flats for up to four people, reports the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Those behind the project said the scheme had the potential to house up to 22 people, according to planning documents.

During a council consultation exercise on the plans, an objection was raised by Norfolk Street Studios over concerns the development would be a house in multiple occupation (HMO).

The objections said that high numbers of HMOs in the neighbourhood contributed to poor public perceptions of the area, impacting on local businesses.

However, a council report included comments from developers which maintained the proposal would not be a HMO, which typically includes multiple households sharing communal facilities, and that the development would instead create "individual dwellings (flats)".

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