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Sunderland scoops £5m National Lottery jackpot

Plans to bring two of Sunderland's most historic buildings back into use have scooped the National Lottery jackpot.

The £5.4m awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) will see a £2.5m grant to transform the Old Fire Station into the hub for a new culture quarter in Sunderland city centre and £2.9m to bring 14th Century Hylton Castle back into community use. The HLF award to Hylton Castle will be boosted by £1.5m match funding from Sunderland City Council, bringing the total amount invested into bringing the castle back into use to £4.4m.

Welcoming the news, Council Leader, Cllr Paul Watson, said: "This is fantastic news for the city. Both projects are testament to the drive, determination and dedication of the people behind them and all those involved should rightly be proud of their success.

"Sunderland has always had a proud cultural heritage and the success of projects like this can only serve to strengthen the city's bid to become UK City of Culture in 2021. Building on award winning developments like Keel Square - and the start of work on the Vaux site, this will also play a significant role in the continuing regeneration of our city centre.”

Chris Mullin, Chair of the HLF North East Committee, said: ''The Old Fire Station and Hylton Castle represent two very different parts of Sunderland's past. They also mark a bright new chapter for the heritage, culture and economy of the city. We are delighted to announce this significant investment in one of our priority areas and look forward to seeing these projects take shape.”

Transformation of the Old Fire Station into a new culture quarter for Sunderland is set to go full steam ahead this spring following today's £2.5m award from the Heritage Lottery Fund to the Sunderland Music, Arts and Culture (MAC) Trust.

Built in 1907, the Old Fire Station which has stood empty since 1992, will be brought back to life as hub for cultural activity, with dance and drama studios, a heritage centre and a bar and restaurant.

As well as securing the future of the Edwardian building, one of 3,000 buildings in Sunderland damaged during the Second World War, the project will also create a permanent legacy for the city’s firefighting heritage.

This is just the first phase of an ambitious regeneration project to boost the local economy, providing jobs and boosting the spend in this historic Edwardian area of the city that is already home to the Sunderland Empire and the recently restored Dun Cow pub.

It is hoped that increased activity in the area will help support local shops and businesses at the same time as attracting more visitors to come to and stay, boosting both the daytime and evening economy of the city.

The building's restoration will complement the recently completed award-winning Keel Square and act as a catalyst for the delivery of a £7.8m state of the art auditorium which was recently awarded a £250,000 initial development grant from the Arts Council.

In total, the project is set to deliver over £10m worth of investment into the Bishopwearmouth conservation area, enhancing its character and maximising the potential of its historic buildings.

Paul Callaghan of the MAC Trust, said: "The MAC Trust is delighted by HLF’s decision to support the redevelopment of the Fire Station. This project reflects Sunderland's growing ambition to use heritage and culture as major drivers in economic regeneration.

"This iconic building will be brought back into use after more than 20 years and will become a wonderful cultural asset for the city and a prime example of the way in which the heritage of a city can be successfully used to develop its future.

"We would like to thank the Heritage Lottery Fund for its continued support, guidance and funding, and our other partners including Sunderland City Council, Dance City and Live Theatre who are helping to make this happen."

Andrew Burnett, Projects Director at Buckey Burnett, added: "We were delighted to have secured the grant award from the Heritage Enterprise Lottery Fund on behalf of the MAC Trust. The Fire Station is such an important building within the City and its renovation will see it brought back into use for the benefit of the communities and people of Sunderland. This award, combined with the ongoing Arts Council funding application for a new auditorium adjacent to the Fire Station means that 2016 will be an exciting year for the MAC Quarter and we are looking forward to seeing the start of construction works on site later this year. "

The plans for Hylton Castle involve transforming the empty shell of the 14th century castle into a living, working building that benefits the local community and visitors alike. As well as bringing this important part of Sunderland's heritage back into use as an educational, community and visitor attraction, it will also safeguard the long term future of the Scheduled Ancient Monument.

Built over three floors, the Castle Gatehouse will accommodate classrooms, a café, exhibition and flexible community spaces for meetings and events. The community run project will also see young people appointed to sit on the board alongside adult mentors.

Plans include:

  • Three floors inserted within the existing structure with access to the roof
  • Exhibition spaces to house a broad range of events and activities
  • A café
  • Interpretation telling the story of the history and heritage of the castle
  • Learning spaces for use by schools, colleges and universities

Councillor Denny Wilson, Chair of Sunderland's North Area Committee, said: “We are all delighted at the success of the final bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund, which will allow us to develop the ambitious plans drawn up during the bid process to return Hylton Castle to the centre of community life.

“What makes this heritage project so special is the fact that it has always been community led. This will be reflected in the unique management structure with young people appointed to the board working towards the long term future development of the site.

“The grant will allow us and the ‘Friends of Hylton Castle and Dene’ which was set up almost twenty years ago, to pursue their dream of bringing the castle back to life, and put the management, marketing and architectural plans already in place into action.”

Keith Younghusband, Chair of the Friends of Hylton Castle, added: "This is great news. It is a wonderful outcome to many years of hard work my thanks go to all those who have been involved in the bid especially Sunderland City Council and their North Area Committee who gave us £30,000 to develop the bid and the staff who have put so much hard work in achieving this outcome. We now have the opportunity to bring the plans that exist into reality and restore this wonderful building into something that we can all be proud of.

"I am grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund for providing the funding. I look forward to the work being completed."

Lynn Rylance, Area Manager, North East & Cumbria, English Heritage, said: “We are pleased to hear that the bid has been successful. We have supported this project along the way and are looking forward to working with partners to bring this unique site back to life for the community.”

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Did you know?

2013 marked 21 years since Sunderland city status from HM The Queen, on 23rd March 1992.

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