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Ward Hadaway facilitates engineering contract for new Sunderland footbridge

Our Built Environment team have successfully negotiated and completed the engineering contract for the New Wear Footbridge that will connect the City centre to the north side of the river by the Stadium of Light.

The completion of the contract, on behalf of their client Sunderland City Council, means the construction phase for the bridge and the associated infrastructure enhancements in and around Riverside Park can now proceed.

Lawyers from the UK Top 100 law firm have been advising the Council since 2021 in relation to the tender for the works and the pre-construction services agreement with the contractor.

The new pedestrian and cycle bridge will connect the former Vaux Brewery site to the south of the river with Sheepfolds to the north side and the associated infrastructure works will enable construction activity and preserve and enhance some of the key features in the river corridor.

Plans for the new bridge were originally unveiled in 2019, with a key aim of the project being to significantly improve the accessibility of the Stadium of Light on matchdays. The crossing is one of a number of major developments within the Riverside Sunderland Masterplan which is transforming the city centre and its resident and visitor experience.

Alan Ross, a Partner within Ward Hadaway’s Built Environment Team, assisted by Associate Philippa Jones and other members of the team, have been advising on the engineering contract. Alan said: “This is a fantastic infrastructure project for the City and demonstrates the Council’s strategic commitment to the Riverside Sunderland regeneration and the transformation of Sunderland as a whole.

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“As someone born and bred in Sunderland and who still lives in the City, I have been delighted to assist the Council over the past two years on what has been an exciting and rewarding project for all involved.

“This project adds to the growing list of high profile, regionally significant, public sector infrastructure and regeneration developments our Construction and Engineering Team continues to deliver, as part of our firm-wide major projects and infrastructure offering.

Patrick Melia, Chief Executive Sunderland City Council: “The completion of the engineering contract for the bridge and associated infrastructure signifies the commencement of the construction phase of what will be a real centrepiece for the Riverside Sunderland development. I would like to thank the team at Ward Hadaway for their excellent advice and assistance and their continued dedication in supporting the Council’s development team to bring forward this flagship infrastructure project.”

The bridge will not only improve connectivity between the city centre and the stadium but it will also help to unlock development in the Sheepfolds neighbourhood, where a community of 500 high-quality sustainable new homes will enhance the city centre residential offer.

VolkerStevin Infrastructure Limited, the contractor, is expected to begin works within weeks and the new bridge is expected to be completed in 2025.

Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

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