Plans to breathe new life into shop units in a Sunderland street have been given the go-ahead by city development chiefs.

Sunderland City Council’s planning department has approved an application for a block of retail units on Villette Road in the Hendon area.

The plans are part of a regeneration scheme linked to Back on the Map, a registered charity working to empower the people of Hendon.

This follows the charity securing £168,000 in government funding from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities’ Community Ownership Fund to boost their ‘High Street Revolution’ project.

In recent months, the charity has been working with traders and residents to improve the road and has also invested its own funds, through the purchase of several neglected buildings.

A planning application for works at a block of properties on Villette Road was submitted to council officials in December, 2023.

This included the ‘‘reconfiguration’ of a terrace of units listed as 57 – 59, 61, 63 and 65-67 Villette Road.

A design and access statement said the scheme would create four new retail units with “flexible, commercial layouts and new modern, revitalised shop frontages, inspired by the commercial heritage of the Villette Road high street”.

Those behind the scheme added it would provide new opportunities for residents wishing to set up their own businesses in the restored units.

After considering the planning application and assessing it against planning policies, Sunderland City Council’s planning department approved it on February 5, 2024.

A council decision report stated the plans would “provide a refresh to the commercial units” and summarised the proposed changes.

This included a “reorganisation of the internal spaces to divide numbers 65-67 into two retail units and combine numbers 61 and 63 into one retail unit”.

Elsewhere, numbers 57-59 are expected to remain in use as a hot food takeaway.

Amended plans were also submitted during the application process, including the “replacement of the shopfronts with new double-glazed units with anthracite window and door frames, pilasters, and fascias” and changes to first-floor windows.

The council decision report added: “In assessing the proposal, the main issues to consider are the impact of the development upon the appearance of the host property and the streetscene in general.

“The existing shopfronts are varied in style and colour scheme and are showing signs of disrepair.

“The proposal will reinstate the traditional frontages and introduce symmetry and unity across the shopfronts.  “The new shopfronts will respect the proportions of the existing buildings, with the pilasters aligning with architectural features at first-floor level, and the fascias aligning with the existing cornice.  “The proposed alterations will improve the appearance of the host properties and the visual amenities of the streetscene in general”.

A design and access statement, submitted with plans last year, noted the building is owned by local community charity Back on the Map, who are “looking to boost economical activity and create job opportunities in the area”.

Jo Cooper, CEO of Back on the Map, previously said: “The development is part of a wider high street regeneration scheme set out in our 23-28 strategy, which focuses on lasting social and economic change for Hendon and directly responds to what the local community have told us the area needs to thrive.

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“We believe this project and the wider high street revolution work will put Villette Road Back on the Map.”

For more information on the planning application and council decision, visit Sunderland City Council’s planning portal website and search reference: 23/02497/FUL Caption: The vacant shops in Villette Road could be brought back into use. Photo Credit: Back on the Map.

Caption: CGI images of how proposed retail units at Villette Road could look Photo Credit: BDN