Sheepfolds Stables revamp enters final stage

Tony Cullen
Fund Manager

Sunderland’s hotly anticipated Sheepfolds Stables is nearing completion, with all buildings now watertight and work underway on the internal fit out.

The leisure development – which is being led by architecture and engineering firm Building Design Northern Ltd (BDN) – got underway over 18 months ago, with a focus on absolute excellence seeing the dilapidated building repaired brick by brick to bring it back to its former glory. 

BDN acquired the Sheepfolds premises in March 2022 and announced ambitious plans to transform the Grade II listed stables into a stunning new leisure and events destination. A multi-million funding package to support the development has been provided by FW Capital via the North East Property Fund which is backed by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP), the second scheme BDN has delivered with this support. 

The Stables development in Sunderland will create an exciting new entertainment destination. It will play host to music and performance on a large outdoor stage, and include a large open-air yard where a range of pop-up events, markets and daytime activity will take place. 

The exciting new venue will be connected to the city centre by the new Wear footbridge that will provide a pedestrian and cyclist crossing between Sheepfolds and the former Vaux Brewery site, both of which are being spectacularly reimagined as part of Sunderland City Council’s Riverside Sunderland plan. Confirmed tenants include The Calabash Tree, Southpaw Dance Company, Vito’s Osteria, Speyside Distillery, I Scream for Pizza, and Ember and Hairy Biker Si King is also going to be delivering a pop-up food offer at the venue when it opens its doors in the summer.  In all, more than 80 new jobs will be created at Sheepfolds Stables. 

Rochelle Richardson, Financial Director at BDN, said: “We have taken our time to deliver a venue that this city deserves – it is looking incredible and we can’t wait to see the fit out move forward in time to open our doors this summer.” 

Founded in 1983, BDN is based in Sunderland and Ulverston, and works across the UK.  BDN has established a reputation for the excellence of its architecture, structural and civil engineering projects. This investment is the second BDN scheme that FW Capital has supported using the North East Property Fund, having previously assisted with the award-winning redevelopment of Old Simpson Street School in Sunderland. This involved the conversion of the Grade II listed building in Sunderland into self-contained office premises that is now the headquarters of BDN, as well as developing eight loft-style apartments.

Tony Cullen, Fund Manager at FW Capital added: “This is an exciting project for the city of Sunderland and we’re delighted to be part of the regeneration of the Sheepfolds area. It’s set to be a massive destination point and will create many new jobs and opportunities locally. This is the second time we have supported BDN after assisting them with finance for the Simpson Street development. The team at BDN are extremely focused and highly regarded in their field and I’ve enjoyed working with them on this ground-breaking project. The completion of Sheepfolds will have a positive impact on the local economy and transformation of Sunderland as a destination venue.”

Helen Golightly OBE, Chief Executive of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “BDN has a proven track record in delivering transformational property developments, and this latest project in Sunderland will add to the city’s already thriving cultural offering. Using investment from the North East Property Fund, BDN is helping to create local jobs, support the growth of many North East businesses, and deliver an economic boost for the region.”

The North East Property Fund offers loans from £250,000 up to £2million for residential and non-speculative commercial developments in Tyne and Wear, Northumberland and County Durham. The Fund can provide up to 100% of build costs for suitable schemes with repayment terms available up to two years.