North East business leaders welcome Wear Crossing announcement + timetable

May 14, 2015
by Al Yong

BUSINESS leaders across Sunderland and the North East welcomed today’s announcement that work is to start on the Wear Crossing.
SAFC commercial director Gary Hutchinson, chairman of the Sunderland Business Group and the North East Chamber of Commerce Sunderland committee, said: “The Wear Crossing is a massive achievement for the city as it will unlock growth and improve accessibility and connectivity in Sunderland, and the wider North East region.

“The exciting development of the Wear Crossing will not only help transform access to Sunderland but will also unlock growth and bring forward development on unused land and create new jobs.”

Sunderland business group chairman Gary Hutchinson

“It plays a key part in development of the Sunderland Strategic Transport Corridor.

“The exciting development of the New Wear Crossing will not only help transform access to Sunderland, but will also unlock growth and bring forward development on unused land and create new jobs.

“We are continuing to search new ways to help improve the dynamic of Sunderland and its city centre.

“The Wear Crossing is a mark of Sunderland’s ambition for growth.”

Chamber chief executive James Ramsbotham said the new bridge would be vital for the economy, not just for Wearside but the whole North East.

“The North East Chamber of Commerce welcomes the decision to bring much-needed transport funding to the North East,” he said.

“This project will help to unlock growth and enterprise in the Sunderland area while contributing to the regeneration of key parts of the city.

“It is important that stakeholders in the region build on this positive news and agree further transport priorities to unlock access to national and international markets.”

Sunderland Business Improvement District chief executive, Ken Dunbar, said the completion of the Sunderland Strategic Transport Corridor was vital to opening up the city centre and projects such as the development of the former Vaux brewery site.

“This is fantastic news,” he said.

“It will be a much-needed artery into the city centre, enable traffic to flow around the city and help the economic vitality of the city centre.

“This is great news all round.”

How the bridge came about:

2003-05: Proposals for England’s tallest bridge are announced.

September 2008: First pictures of the 180-metre-high “iconic” bridge are released, with designers hailing it “a signpost for the city”.

Created by award-winning architect Stephen Spence, the crossing – with its twisted pylon rising out of the river – is intended as a “symbol for Sunderland that will be recognised around the world”.

November 2008: Plans move a step closer after the council’s ruling Labour group decide the “iconic design” is the “best option” for the city, with a public consultation drive backing the proposals. Council leader Paul Watson says: “I think it’s what the city deserves”.

April 2010: Councillors approve plans for the bridge, which could cost up to £133million. The authority expects to contribute £32million towards the project, with the remainder from the Government and other sources.

October 2010: The Coalition Government fails to guarantee £98million funding for the project, with the plans now in a “development pool” of 22 proposals ministers view to be “good value for money”, but in need of further analysis.

December 2010: Fresh hope as council leaders agree to spend £1.4million to investigate progressing with the project. The council must submit fresh documents, starting with an “expression of interest”. Cabinet members agree to continue pushing for the project.

December 2011: Department for Transport chiefs confirm a £82.5million grant that will help make the bridge project a reality. Officials say that work could begin as early as 2012, with the new crossing open to traffic as early as 2015.

February 2013: Fears over the plan emerge after two firms pull out of the bidding to build the bridge.

July 2013: City Council confirms the landmark bridge project will not be pursued. Instead, a simplified cable-stayed design is being explored.

January 2015: City council cabinet confirms a new joint venture between Farrans Construction and Victor Buyck Steel Construction as preferred bidder for the redesigned scheme.

May 2015: Government approval means work can start.

Source: North East business leaders welcome Wear Crossing announcement + timetable – Sunderland Echo