Work to transform a former North East colliery site into a £20 million retail development is now well underway, with the erection of two giant steel structures.

Comprising a Tesco and Home Bargains, it is hoped the development will breathe new life into the former Houghton Colliery site.

Situated on the edge of Houghton-le-Spring town centre, the scheme – which also includes new public artwork and realm – is being developed by North East based property and construction specialist, Hellens Group in conjunction with Fintry Estates.

Tesco will occupy the largest of the two units, comprising 45,000sq ft of floorspace, with Home Bargains taking up almost 20,000sq ft. Tesco will also be opening a petrol station on site, with the entire development delivering around 100 jobs.

A 300-bay carpark will also be built, including disabled spaces and electric car charging points, as well as a new footpath connecting the development to Houghton-le-Spring high street.

Cllr Kevin Johnston, dynamic city cabinet member at Sunderland City Council, said: “As a local resident as well as a ward councillor, it’s fantastic to see this development finally coming to life.

“Once the proud home of Houghton Colliery, the area has always held a special place in the hearts of residents, and I am sure this project will once again see it become a real economic success story for the area.

“As a Council, we made a commitment last year to review our procurement systems to “keep the Sunderland pound in Sunderland” whenever possible, by prioritising local spend, and in Hellens Group we have a partner which is helping us do just that.

“It’s a business rooted in the local area, employing local people and working with local contractors to deliver a project which, alongside the new public artwork being created by Sam and Ray Lonsdale, will be truly transformational for the people of Houghton and we’re delighted to be supporting the project.”

Now in its 50th year of business, Hellens Group was founded in nearby Hetton-le-Hole in 1973. Since then, the company has gone on to work on multiple high-profile projects across the North of England.

Gavin Cordwell-Smith, chief executive at Hellens Group, said: “We are enormously proud to be bringing forward this development in partnership with Sunderland City Council to deliver the redevelopment of Houghton Colliery as part of a more vibrant retail offer, bringing jobs and opportunities to local people.

“Sunderland City Council is an ambitious authority with a joined-up approach to strategic regeneration, it is a pleasure to be able to work with them on this journey.

“At Hellens, we’re truly committed to projects such as this which bring real value added to our region, a region that we have been proud to call home for all of our 50 years.”

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