Sunderland City Council – Town Park Improvements

BCE Northern was employed as Principal Contractor by Sunderland City Council to undertake the Public Realm Improvement works to Town Park in Sunderland. The improvements to the park was awarded a £1million National Lottery Heritage Fund and is part of the Bishopwearmouth Townscape Heritage Scheme to restore and renew the open space for the enjoyment of the local community.  

The works consisted of improvement works to the Town Park, a green space situated behind Sunderland Minster. The park area is a busy pedestrianised route used by the general public as main access from the heritage area of listed buildings including the Grade II* listed Empire Theatre through to the Bridges Shopping Mall situated in the centre of Sunderland, including main pedestrian routes for Sunderland University.  

The scope of works included:  

  • Hard and soft landscaping to existing pavements
    • New granite paving and steps to performance area and new perimeter footways
    • A new central seating area to ornamental garden area  
    • Specialist stonemasonry works to existing perimeter church wall  
    • Restoration of historic cast iron railings, ironmongery and sandstone pillars  
    • Improved LED street lighting  
    • New granite planters  
    • Extensive tree and shrub planting to the park grounds 

As Principal Contractor, BCE Northern Ltd was wholly responsible for the execution and sourcing, organising and delivery of all necessary labour, plant and materials to site along with the programming of works to ensure a timely and successful delivery of the project.  

Located in the city centre and adjacent to the Bridges Shopping Centre and Sunderland Minster, as a busy thoroughfare, access was maintained throughout the construction phases to all local businesses, the church, the general public and large volumes of students. 

The entire area around the site is surrounded on all sides by residential streets, church buildings, commercial properties including public houses, restaurants/cafes, university buildings, hotels, retail units and a multi-storey car park, therefore disruption to the nearby communities had to be kept to a minimum  

Part of our contractual obligations were to always maintain complete uninterrupted access for business owners and the public and to ensure pedestrian and vehicle access to the Sunderland Minster throughout the full duration of the works.  

Consequently, a robust Health & Safety procedure was planned and adopted by all stakeholders involved to ensure the safe and uninterrupted access required.  

Careful sequencing to accommodate openings for busy market days, church fete, university fresher’s weeks, bank holidays and a busy theatre venue were all accommodated within our critical path and agreed programme of works to ensure a successful and seamless delivery of each phase.  

The Contract was completed on time and within a controlled Heritage Lottery Fund budget and nominated to the final of the Northern Design Awards.  

This involved extensive signing, guarding and segregation with phased dated and scheduled “change overs” of pedestrian traffic flows along with our Site Manager monitoring all routes daily to ensure no access problems arose.  

Throughout the duration of the works a fully signed and guarded safety fence was erected to the perimeter of the working area restricting access to the public at all times.  

To assist with minimising disruption to the neighbouring properties and communities, we appointed a Liaison Officer responsible for communicating with all those affected by the works and ensuring they were kept regularly informed of planned works, safety and environmental issues. Each business/retail unit frontage was securely signed and guarded notifying the public of safe points of access with “business as usual” signage to assist retailers.  

The project at Town Park demonstrates the successful delivery of a project with heavy stakeholder and community engagement and further ingrains our liaison officer and our liaison with local residents, businesses and the wider community as a fundamental part of our day to day activities.