The City Council's Landscape Design team has undertaken a wide range of projects in recent years. Below is a selection of the highest profile projects
Columbia Grange School:
The project aimed to design and implement a garden to promote cognitive, social and motor play on an area of unused open green space within the school grounds and to allow the teaching of the curriculum outdoors, meeting the complex needs of the pupils, age two to eleven year olds with severe learning difficulties and/or autism.
The brief requested an emphasis on natural materials and that parents would be able to use the facility out of school hours. Sunderland City Council design services team were commissioned to design and implement the works. After consultation with staff and parents we produced an initial masterplan for approval by the School and the project was implemented in two phases. The Landscape Architect was responsible for the production of sketch design, detailed design, construction information, tender documentation and administration of contract as agent on behalf of the client to implement the designs.
A 24Ha historic parkland that was once the private garden of the famous Sunderland Shipbuilding family William Doxford & Sons. In 1968 on her death Aline Doxford, the last remaining family member, bequeathed the house and estate to Sunderland City Council who gave the house its present name and turned the gardens into Doxford Park.
Over the last 10 years the park had become neglected, vandalised and tired with crumbling footpaths, lake edgings and a stagnant/polluted water course. Sunderland City Council, working alongside The Friends of Doxford Park and Groundwork North-East submitted a bid to Big Lottery, Community Spaces grant fund to undertake a series of landscape improvements to enhance the park for the local community.
The project concentrated the improvements around the lake, improving water flow by removing all the contaminated water and debris, making good all lake edgings by removing self-sown tree stumps and installing gabions baskets filled with loose stone and reeds/marginal planting at the lake inlet to improve water quality. Other key elements for the project were to improve and re-surface existing tarmac and gravel footpaths around the lake perimeter with a buff resin bound gravel, restoring sections of historic York stone paving, replacement of vandalised seating with new ornate timber seats, signage and new herbaceous planting using species suited to a lake edge.
St Peter's Church:
The public realm improvements at Saint Peter's Church, Monkwearmouth celebrate both the historic importance of the Church and former monastery and its continuing relevance to the people of Sunderland. Saint Peter's Church, Monkwearmouth dates back to the very beginnings of Sunderland when Benedict Biscop founded a monastery on the banks of the River Wear in 674.
Sunderland City Council allocated £1.5m for public realm improvements at Saint Peter's to properly reflect its significance and to enhance visitors' understanding of the site. The main aims of the project were to improve the pedestrian connections between the Church and the housing areas to the north, The National Glass Centre to the east and the University to the south, improve the approach for vehicles and pedestrians from the west, better interpret the results of the archaeological investigations carried out by Professor Rosemary Cramp of Durham University between 1963 and 1978 and improve the immediate vicinity of the Church and allow for its continual use as a place of worship and a focus for community activities.
The archaeological remains of the monastery from the seventh century onwards are between one and three metres below existing ground level. These ancient remains are now manifested on the surface by the use of low walls in dressed local sandstone and clipped hedges. New stone paving represents the interiors and grass or compacted gravel denotes the cloistered spaces containing seventh century burials. An enlarged version of the original archaeologists drawing has been sandblasted into polished granite to create a location map..
The wider footpath network has been upgraded with resin bound gravel and granite steps. New floodlighting has been installed designed by Enlighten lighting consultants. The tower is lit by above ground halogen in bespoke stone housings. The remainder of the Church is lit by inset LED strips.
The land to the north of the Church was excavated and lowered to reduce the claustrophobic ground levels at the main doorway and improve views to the Church from the main road. This involved the removal of several human skeletons and their re-interment on site.
Other Historic Landscapes and Parks projects include Barnes Park and Mowbray Park.
The brief for the landscape architects was to create a new world class public space that acts as informal outside space and a meeting place at the heart of the city centre. The new public realm space would provide a flexible space for different events and a multiplicity of uses, including an income generating events space to hire out, plus a quality destination and sense of place to enhance the image of the city. The new space improves the visual environment including installation of new street furniture, high quality durable materials that compliment the setting of the grade II* listed Magistrates Court building, and providing a smooth pedestrian transition between a new business district and the city centre.
Other Urban Regeneration Projects include South Shields Town Hall, Bridges retail extension, Old Fire Station plaza and Holmeside redevelopment.
Sunderland boasts two stunning beaches in the historic resorts of Seaburn and Roker. However, these areas were also particular symbolic of the city's decline over recent years, displaying evidence of wear and tear, a crumbling public realm, poor access and struggling businesses.
Sunderland Council's Landscape Design Services along with the Regeneration team took the lead role on drawing up proposals for a succession of successful funding bids. CABE Sea Change funding and Coastal Communities funding was secured, which was combined with council contributors over a 7 year period.
Leading on the design and implementation to the 1 mile stretch of seafront, the Landscape Team made a space which enhances the visitor's experience of the coast; to reinforce the benefit from being in an open space with sandy beaches, sea breezes and changing light. The generous introduction on of herbaceous and colourful planting in combination with the natural hard landscape materials has had a transforming effect and has been critical to imbuing a sense of well-being for visitors and businesses.