Demolition of Sunderland’s Civic Centre is now underway, paving the way for 265 new homes to be built.

The municipal building on Burdon Road was vacated by Sunderland City Council earlier this year, after it moved to City Hall at Riverside Sunderland, a modern public-sector hub bringing together a range of services for residents under one roof.

Demolition contractor MGL Demolition, part of the MGL Group, has now started to dismantle the 1960s building, which will unlock the development of a sustainable community of high-quality new homes, the residents of which will refuel the city centre economy.

The building had seen many of its features become obsolete, meaning it was no longer fit for purpose and unable to serve the needs of residents in the city.

Once demolished, Vistry Partnerships North East will transform the site into a stunning housing scheme, creating attractive new city centre properties and open green spaces.

Initial works – already complete – included stripping out the interior of the building, taking out the existing windows, and safely removing any asbestos containing materials, commonly used in buildings constructed before the 1980s.

The development is part of a wider programme of regeneration in the city centre that seeks to double the number of people living and working in the area.

It will provide a welcome boost to existing traders and improve connectivity between the city centre, neighbouring communities and Mowbray Park.

It also supports the council’s plans to build more than 7,000 new homes within the next ten years.

Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “Councils have significantly changed the way they operate and interact with residents and partner organisations, and buildings like the Civic Centre – that were designed for working in a bygone era – can eventually become a barrier to progress.

“We were determined, when we made the decision to move out of the Civic, to twin-track the development of our new building with a process to ensure the site on Burdon Road would be quickly regenerated and we are delighted that – only a matter of months after moving our team into City Hall – we are seeing the way paved for development to quickly proceed.”

The new development from Vistry Partnerships North East will provide a range of attractive new homes, standing within high-quality public open spaces, with plenty of cycling and pedestrian links, improving access to the city centre.

Of particular note is a proposal to recreate Saint George’s Square – bomb damaged during the Second World War and lost to redevelopment in the 60s – with the Grade II listed Saint George’s House as the focal point.

The architecture and streetscape will be sensitive to the park side location and the Ashbrooke Conservation Area.

Properties will be sold under Vistry’s house building brand, Linden Homes and will range from one to four bedroomed homes – with many benefitting from views across Mowbray Park.

Andrew Rennie, Development Director with Vistry Partnerships North East, said: “It’s great to see work advancing on the demolition of this site, which will allow us to move forward with our development plans, delivering a beautiful new community on the edge of Sunderland city centre.”

Mark Davison, joint chief executive at MGL Group, said: “We’re pleased to have been appointed on this important project for the city.

“With a stunning new City Hall at Riverside Sunderland, the Civic Centre site will soon be cleared to make way for a development that will bring many hundreds of people into the heart of the city, boosting the economy in the process.”

As well as this development, Sunderland City Council is also delivering on ambitions to build contemporary new city centre homes on the Riverside Sunderland site, as well as driving developments at the seafront and Sunderland South Growth Area (SSGA).

Vistry Partnerships North East is currently active on 12 construction sites around the North East region with a gross development value of just over £400 million and is working with seven housing associations and seven local authorities.