A Sunderland based community charity, which seeks to enhance the quality of lives of people living in Hendon, is set to breathe new life into the high street after being supported by a local architect firm.

Back on the Map (BOTM), a registered charity that work to empower the people of Hendon, are being supported by Sunderland and Ulverston based Building Design Northern (BDN), who are providing their time and expertise at no cost to develop plans to bring a block of derelict retail units on Villette Road back into use.

Earlier this year, BOTM secured £168,000 government funding from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities’ £150million Community Ownership Fund to boost their High Street Revolution project, having spent the past 12 months working with traders and residents to improve the road. The charity has also invested its own funds, through the purchase of several neglected buildings.

Award-winning architects and engineers, BDN, have submitted a planning application to reinstate four new retail units with flexible, commercial layouts and new modern, revitalised shop frontages, inspired by the commercial heritage of the Villette Road high street.

The local centre of Hendon is highlighted as a key area of development within Sunderland City Council’s Core Strategy and Development Plan, with a particular focus on introducing new commercial provision on the high street.

It is anticipated that the transformation will provide new opportunities for residents wishing to set up their own businesses in the restored units and increase employment opportunities through new, high-quality retail space.

Adam Lennox, Architectural Assistant at BDN, said “We are delighted to have offered our support and assistance to Back on The Map’s community focused project – an organisation that work so hard to strengthen the social and economic fabric of a part of Sunderland that faces significant challenges.

If approved, the project will see four existing, irregular shaped out of use units and tired shop frontages revitalised, to reinvigorate the high-street, and provide opportunities for the local community to thrive.”

BDN’s architectural plans were submitted to Sunderland City Council in November 2023 and, if given the green light, Back on the Map hope to get to work immediately with the ongoing support of BDN.

Jo Cooper, CEO of Back on the Map, said, “We were delighted when BDN offered to support us in the development of Block 57. Their involvement has elevated the project and attracted lots of attention from  local businesses looking for quality retail space.

“The development is part of a wider high street regeneration scheme set out in our 23-28 strategy, which focuses on lasting social and economic change for Hendon and directly responds to what the local community have told us the area needs to thrive. We believe this project and the wider high street revolution work will put Villette Road Back on the Map.”

To find out more about Back on the Map, visit, Home – Back on the Map and to learn more about BDN, visit bdnltd.com