ANDREW Burnett is a very busy man.

Not only is he a director of successful land and property company Buckley Burnett, he is a director of housing company Bede Homes and a partner at the rapidly-expanding pub owner Pub Culture.

The link between Buckley and Burnett and Pub Culture is a vision to turn a historic sector of Sunderland city centre into a thriving cultural hub.

Loading article content

Behind the ambitious plans are the Sunderland Music, Arts and Culture (MAC) Trust, for whom Buckley Burnett are project managers.

The first phase of the development was the purchase and renovation of the Dun Cow, adjacent to the popular Sunderland Empire.

Phase two was the transformation of an old fire station into a £3.6m arts centre, housing a restaurant, bistro and satellite offices for Live Theatre and Dance City. Work is well underway.

Phase three was the purchase and re-development of another pub in close proximity to the Dun Cow and fire station, The Londonderry. Work started at the beginning of March.

The fourth phase was the successful bid to Arts Council England for £6m to fund a new 450-seat auditorium, which will wrap around the fire station re-development.

Work is due to start later this year, with the new venue opening in 2019.

Mr Burnett, and his business partner, Richard Buckley, have been instrumental to the delivery of each phase of the MAC vision so far, and, with two other directors, established Pub Culture late last year to run the two pubs in the MAC quarter.

He said: “We’re quite literally changing the landscape of Sunderland city centre and we’re also raising the bar of the hospitality offering."

It’s not the first time he has worked in the sector.

He said: “Although my family are from Teesside, my grandad was the manager at Furness Shipbuilders at Haverton Hill, I grew up in Penzance where my father worked as a teacher.

“I worked at the local nightclub before leaving for Northumbria University and while at university I worked in a pub, starting off collecting glasses and ending up as bar supervisor.

“The experiences gave me a degree of knowledge of the sector, which I like to think has helped Pub Culture grow.

“We’re in the process of adding a third pub in Newcastle.”

Mr Burnett studied building management at Northumbria and as part of his degree completed a 12-month placement at retirement home builder McCarthy and Stone, in London.

Upon leaving university, he immediately joined Bowey Construction before re-joining McCarthy in York, working in the land-buying department.

From there he joined Betts Homes as a land manager, becoming a director in 2004.

He left in 2008.

“It was time to plough my own furrow”, he said, though his timing wasn’t great.

“I had a retainer from a few regional housebuilders, but when the recession hit a few months later it went very quiet.”

He was able to spend more time with his three young children, he now has a fourth, and helped wife Emma with her hand-made chocolate company.

He said: “Things began to pick up towards the end of 2009 and then in early 2010 Richard Buckley rang.

“I’d known him a long time and he was then director of delivery for Tees Valley Unlimited.

“I worked as a project consultant for nine months before Richard and I had a conversation about what would happen next.”

Buckley Burnett Limited was the result, and was established in early 2011.

The company is based in the listed Manor House in the centre of Sedgefield, County Durham.

Turnover has grown rapidly in the years since then and a wide range of clients, including the MAC Trust, Taylor Wimpey UK, Newcastle College, Partner Construction and Dere St Homes use its services.

Development surveyor Grace Hunter joined the team in 2014.

Mr Burnett added: “Between the three of us we can do it all really – multi-use land assembly, development management, planning strategy, land acquisition and disposal, development viability and surveying.

“Our skills are complementary and our work goes from planning applications for a single bungalow to major developments like the MAC quarter.

“We’re a well-respected company with good contacts throughout the sector; we’re patient, stick to our principles and never chase a deal.”

Working across the three companies means that Mr Burnett has little time for relaxation, and what spare hours he does have he spends following Middlesbrough FC, tinkering with old cars and spending time with his family at their home near Lanchester, County Durham.