Plans for a major student accommodation development in Sunderland city centre are due to go before councillors for decision next month.

Sunderland City Council’s Planning and Highways Committee will discuss an application for the Furniture Lounge building at 61-63 Fawcett Street.

The site, which sits near the historic Elephant Tea Rooms, has been earmarked for residential development under recent plans submitted to the council.

Developers aim to provide improved ground floor retail units and to convert and extend the building’s vacant upper floors into student accommodation.

This includes 44 one-bedroom “suites” and associated meeting and leisure facilities, ranging from a centralised dining/kitchen and meeting room, TV lounge and gym, to laundry facilities, a games room and a group study room.

A supporting statement submitted to council officials previously said the scheme would be a “highly desirable offering to any investor” and would help “support the huge demand for student accommodation within Sunderland”.

Those behind the scheme added the design would meet requirements of the conservation area and “compliment the historic character of the building’s upper floors”.

Council planning officers, in a report prepared ahead of the Planning and Highways Committee in March, 2024, have recommended the housing scheme for approval.

It was noted that the proposal would “contribute positively to the vitality of the city centre” for several reasons.

This included “the delivery of new student accommodation within vacant upper floors, the creation of an appropriately designed rear extension and the installation of a new heritage shop front”.

The council committee report adds: “The impact of the development on the character and appearance of the Sunniside Conservation Area is acceptable whilst appropriate levels of amenity will be afforded to prospective occupants of the host building and those within nearby buildings.

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“The ecological implications have been assessed and subject to relevant conditions and a financial contribution towards coastal protection to be made via a Section 106 agreement, the scheme is considered to be acceptable”.

The final say on the planning application rests with members of the council’s Planning and Highways Committee, who will next meet on Monday, March 4, 2024.

The meeting is scheduled to take place at City Hall from 5.30pm and will be open to the public.