A unique cultural attraction in Sunderland city centre has been given the green light today.

Culture House – a multi-purpose cultural venue, packed with features and with a year-round programme of activities – has been approved at a Sunderland City Council planning meeting, paving the way for work to start within weeks.

The building, which will combine a state-of-the-art city library and a permanent home for local history and archive collections with spaces for exhibitions, storytelling, learning, gaming, media, arts and crafts, has been designed with heavy input from Sunderland residents, and will stand on the site of the Corner Flag pub, overlooking Keel Square.

A café, a roof garden and welcoming social spaces will make Culture House a “living room in the heart of the city”, and the building will offer an exciting mix of immersive digital experiences and traditional media.

Plans were submitted to the planning authority at the end of last year and will now move forward, with a construction partner expected to be announced before the summer.

Plans for Culture House were first revealed in the City Council’s Riverside Sunderland masterplan and the proposals have been fine-tuned following a series of engagement events with the public which revealed strong support for the project.

Patrick Melia, chief executive of Sunderland City Council, said: “Culture House is a staple part of our Riverside Sunderland plan, and I am very much looking forward to seeing it rise from the ground, adding to the magnificent buildings we’re seeing take shape in and around Keel Square.

“Our plan for the city centre is to create a vibrant new destination, where people can live work and play, and through venues like Culture House, alongside the magnificent Auditorium and our planned £80m Arena, we are delivering more and better places for people to visit and enjoy.”

Stunning images that formed part of the planning submission show a striking contemporary building, which will stand on the south side of Keel Square.

Culture House has been designed by award-winning, international practice FaulknerBrowns Architects, who also designed the nearby City Hall.

The £25m new building will provide more than 75,000sq ft of accommodation on four floors, and the project has secured funding from the Government’s Future High Streets Fund.

Lee McLaughlin, partner at FaulknerBrowns Architects, said: “We are really proud to see Culture House approved.

“The project is a key part of the Riverside Sunderland masterplan, on a site that frames the city’s conservation area and holds significant importance in historical and urban terms.

“Our approach has been to navigate a simple yet flexible architectural language with a civic focus, enhanced by the city’s history of making, a clear commitment to sustainability, whilst linking strongly to both historic and emerging culture.”

The new building is expected to attract more than half a million visits a year and will draw people from across the city and beyond, contributing to city centre regeneration and enhancing Sunderland’s exciting cultural offer.

Culture House is a key part of the Riverside Sunderland delivery plan, which sets out a transformational vision to create a vibrant, mixed-use site.

The plans will see 1,000 new homes for up to 2,500 new residents arrive on Riverside Sunderland, as well as a range of new places to enjoy – including parkland both sides of the river, connected by a new pedestrian crossing.

The plans will boost the number of people living and working in the heart of the city, creating a stronger daytime and evening economy by doubling the resident population of the city centre from 2,500 to 5,000 and increasing employment by 50% to 18,000.

For more information on the Riverside Sunderland masterplan, visit: https://www.riversidesunderland.com/.