The construction of a major new Sunderland hotel is set to get underway following the sale of the land in the city centre.

The 120-bed Holiday Inn Hotel, that will overlook the city centre’s Keel Square and create 130 new jobs, will begin to rise from the ground over the summer months, after Sunderland councillors agreed the purchase of the area with developer Cairn Group.

The company behind the proposals for the £18m Holiday Inn hotel saw its plans approved in the latter part of last year and the final agreements were signed with the council this week.

That means that work can now commence on the four-storey development and it is expected to be completed by the end of next year.

The hotel is the latest in a string of major redevelopments announced by the city council, including the £100m deal with Legal and General, which will see three buildings constructed in the Riverside Sunderland district, a new urban quarter that will comprise offices, homes and leisure spaces.

Work is progressing on City Hall and business spaces are due to appear on the former Vaux Brewery site.

The former Gilbridge police station will be turned into high-specification commercial premises, and there is the addition of the Auditorium in the Cultural Quarter.

Cairn Group’s Holiday Inn development is being part-funded by Canada Life, a commitment secured by Avison Young, and will create additional accommodation that will support an increasing number of visitors to the city.

Richard Warren of Cairn Group said: “We’re delighted to be able to push forward with the development of an exciting new addition to the city’s leisure and hospitality portfolio.

“We are thrilled to be part of regenerating Sunderland and remain committed to investing within the region.”

Aneil Handa, who has also worked to agree the deal on behalf of Cairn Group, added: “This high quality hotel will appeal to a range of travellers, and as one of a number of exciting developments progressing in Sunderland, it is clear that this hotel is coming at the right time for the city.”

The new hotel will feature ground-floor commercial units with opportunities for food and beverage outlets, that will add to the city’s daytime and evening economy, and the group is open to providing letting opportunities to both national operators as well as local businesses.

With two of the four spaces set to be let by Sunderland City Council, people who may be interested in taking space are being invited to get in touch.

Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said the deal was another important step forward in the transformation of the city centre.

He said: “This has been a challenging time for the city, as it has for the UK at large, so it is good to be able to announce a really positive development for Sunderland, and one that demonstrates that we are ready to emerge from this crisis on the front foot and deliver the dynamic city centre our residents want and deserve.

“We had the wind in our sails before COVID-19 struck, and I am determined that we do not lose any momentum, as we push ahead with the transformation of our city centre and the wider city.

“We’re delighted to have signed this deal and look forward to seeing the hotel take shape.

“Community wealth building projects – deals we facilitate that support the jobs of local people both during the construction phase and thereafter, are at the heart of our vision for transforming Sunderland.

“We’re looking forward to seeing the positive impact of this scheme for local people.”

The Keel Square hotel is the latest development hotel regeneration project led by Cairn Group, with other projects including Holiday Inn Jesmond, Holiday Inn Scotch Corner, Mercure Darlington Kings Hotel, Cairn Hotel Newcastle, Rooms Inn Newcastle and DoubleTree by Hilton Newcastle International Airport. Cairn Group recently partnered with Starwood Capital on their Treehouse Hotel on London’s Regent Street, which opened in November 2019.

He added: “Hotel developments represent much more than just the financial investment being made – they’re a vote of confidence in the city’s visitor economy – and we’re pleased that Cairn Group can see the vibrancy that is growing in Sunderland.”

Avison Young, acting on behalf of Cairn Group, secured forward commitment funding from Canada Life for the development of the new retail and hotel development at Keel Square, Sunderland.

Simon Beanland, principal and head of investment at Avison Young, Newcastle, said: “This funding commitment by Canada life is another tremendous vote of confidence for the City of Sunderland, following hard on the heels of substantial funding commitments by Legal and General elsewhere in the city.”

The development of the hotel is one of a number of significant projects underway in Sunderland city centre. It follows the completion of The Beam, which is now home to online grocer Ocado, as well as two other growing businesses.

The new City Hall development, which is now well underway, will be followed by two more offices on the Riverside Sunderland site.



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