Sunderland's National Glass Centre to move due to structural issues in building

A new location is being sought for The National Glass Centre, which has structural issues. Credit: Sunderland City Council

The National Glass Centre (NGC) is set to move from its riverside location because of structural issues which would cost millions to repair.

New locations are being considered in Sunderland city centre.

The University of Sunderland, which has owned the NGC since 2010, Sunderland City Council and Sunderland Culture are exploring possible locations where it could move to in the city centre.

The university said a review had concluded a multi-million pound investment would be required to address structural issues in the NGC.

Its board of governors has decided to find an alternative location - or locations - for the venue, which the university would like to move to within the next three years.

One of the sites under discussion is Culture House, a development on the south side of Keel Square.

Until the move, the NGC will remain open and operate as usual.

The NGC, which underwent a £2.25million revamp in 2013, opened in 1998 and is also home to the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art (NGCA) and the university's glass and ceramic academic programmes.

Sir David Bell, vice-chancellor and chief executive said: “The university is committed, as far as it is practically possible and viable, to maintaining within the city the exhibition and display of glass art, alongside academic work in glass and ceramics.

"As well as undertaking internal review work on these matters, we are also in active discussion with Sunderland City Council about alternative locations for the activities currently undertaken within the NGC and NGCA. Hopefully, we will have more details to share in the coming months.

"I recognise this is an uncertain time for staff and students based at the NGC, but we need to act now, given that the university is not in a position to spend the millions of pounds required to secure the longer-term future of the current NGC building.”

Councillor Linda Williams, Sunderland City Council’s cabinet member for vibrant city, said: “Across the city we have an excellent cultural and heritage offer, and really strong partnerships through which to continue to grow and develop that offer.

"Plans for Culture House are beginning to take shape - an exciting major new investment now underway at the heart of the city for residents and visitors alike.

"We are working closely with the university to explore whether becoming part of Culture House provides the best opportunity for the next generation of the much-loved National Glass Centre – one of our key cultural assets - to continue to grow and thrive in Sunderland for generations to come.”

Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott said: “Sunderland is proud of our cultural heritage and the National Glass Centre has played a key role in putting the city on the cultural map for over 30 years.

“The university and its partners have done all they can to try to remain at the current site.  However, following the conclusion of a specialist external review it is clear that a multi-million-pound investment would be required if the NGC were to remain at its current location.

“Although this is disappointing, I am reassured that the university and its partners are working hard to ensure that the first-class exhibitions that are enjoyed by thousands of people each year are retained within the city."

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