AN empty high street shop will be turned into a nightclub after new plans were approved.

The former JJB Sports building in Sunderland will be converted into a pub, with a bar and seating on the ground floor and nightclub areas above.

A planning application to redevelop the former sportswear building as a pub were first approved by Sunderland CIty Council in 2018.

This included removing ‘eyesore’ metal cladding, improvements to windows and brickwork and a new frontage.

An old pub front at the side of the building, in Pann Lane, was also earmarked for restoration work.

Last year, Roxborough Plant and Construction Ltd submitted new plans requesting several changes to the internal layout which included the addition of nightclub areas across the first and second floors.

Following consultation, Sunderland City Council approved the new application on Wednesday, January 20.

In a decision report, planners said the nightclub off High Street West would play a “positive role in enlivening the environment of the high street”.

The report said: “The principle for the change of use of the site was established within the previous application. 

“Given the vacancy rate within the prime shopping area, and that the premises have been vacant for some time it was considered that the proposal can be supported in principle. 

“The area has benefited from public realm upgrades as part of the investments corridor programme and the proposal would play a positive role in enlivening the environment of the high street, contribute to increasing footfall at high street by providing a link between the evening offers of the Minster Quarter and Sunniside, and play a positive role in supporting the diversification of the high street in line with the current national trend.”

Approved opening hours for the venue will be 9am to 11pm, Monday to Wednesday (except bank holidays) and 9am to 2am, Thursday to Saturday (except Bank Holidays).

On Sundays and bank holidays, the venue would be allowed to open between 11am and 10.30pm.

The council decision report goes on to say: “City centre living inevitably involves a certain level of activity during night-time hours over and above that which would be experienced in the quieter residential areas. 

“In this case, it was considered that on balance, allowing the premises to open later during the weekend as proposed, would allow the vacant property to be brought back into use, whilst protecting the amenities of nearby residents during the more sensitive weekdays.

“As no objections had been received to the proposal, the extended opening hours were considered to be acceptable in this particular case.”

Planners added the development would not “result in harm to the character or appearance of the host property or the setting of the adjacent conservation area.”

External works to improve the appearance of the former sportswear store and the ‘ghost pub’ are expected to continue as normal.

A previous heritage statement had already stipulated the development would see the historic pub front “restored to its previous grandeur”

The proposed new frontage to the overall building was said to have been “designed in a traditional fashion and will reinforce and improve the historic character of the street”.