Sunderland Future High Streets Fund

Between September 2019 and April 2020, genecon completed the Sunderland Future High Streets Fund Bid for a £25m investment in Sunderland city centre, resulting in the full funding being awarded – the joint-highest of all bids.

At a glance

genecon was appointed to lead a consultant team of Arcadis and Sanderson Weatherall.

We worked on a strategic case, commercial case, economic case, financial case and management case as part of the bid documentation.

Sunderland’s bid was successful, resulting in the award of the full £25m.

The challenge:

Sunderland City Council appointed genecon to lead a consultant team consisting of Arcadis and Sanderson Weatherall to complete the Sunderland Future High Streets Fund Bid for up to £25m, targeted at key investment packages in the city centre with the goal of improving experience, driving growth and ensuring future sustainability.

The first package is delivering public realm and pedestrian connectivity improvements to animate Sunderland Station’s arrival gateway and link the High Street to Riverside Sunderland, an ongoing project that is creating a new Central Business District and sustainable city centre residential community.

The second package focussed on animating Keel Square and diversifying uses on the high street.  The package consisted of three elements, The Culture House, a four-storey state of the art library, creative lab, local history centre and public forum and a new 120-bed hotel both located in Keel Square, and the conversion of 3 vacant high-street retail units into leisure, commercial and residential units.

The final package supported the continued consolidation of retail and diversification of uses within the retail core by converting the former Crowtree Leisure Centre site into an anchor leisure attraction that includes a cinema with IMAX screen, Urban Adventure Arena and food and beverage units.

The solution:

genecon initially worked with Sunderland City Council on a prioritisation exercise to select projects for the bid that were well-aligned with the strategic rationale of the fund and local regeneration ambitions, as well as having the potential to deliver real value for money and actually being deliverable in the timescales.

A strategic case was then worked on to set out the strategic rationale for the investment package and describe why public sector investment is required to make it happen, as well as establishing the context for why this investment would contribute positively to local and national policy objectives.

The commercial case evidenced the commercial deliverability of the investment package by demonstrating the demand and commercial viability for each element of the investment package, while the economic case was created to prove value for money in line with HM Treasury’s Green Book guidance.

A financial case and management case were also created to document that the costs had been properly and robustly assessed and that the resource was available locally, to ensure that the project would be deliverable and that the necessary risk assessments had taken place.

The impact:

genecon delivered the business case for the Sunderland Future High Streets Fund bid on schedule and ensured that it was compliant with the HM Treasury Green Book. In December 2020, it was announced that Sunderland would receive the full £25m investment.

“This announcement of more funding will provide an additional boost as we look forward to 2021. We’re determined to deliver on our vision for the city centre, anchored by Riverside Sunderland. Our plans will regenerate the whole area, with the benefits of this new urban quarter spilling out to the whole city centre.” Graeme Miller
Leader of Sunderland City Council