The Rabbit Bar and Bistro at High Street West, a Grade II listed building, is the latest in the area to be renovated.

The building, which dates from the early 19th century, has undergone a transformation to restore some of its historic features.

It is one of a number of listed buildings around High Street West to benefit from grant assistance since 2018, enhancing the look and feel of the area.

Work on The Rabbit has included reinstating a traditional style shopfront, replacing windows, and repairs to the roof and chimneys.

A grant of £129,000 was awarded to carry out extensive repairs and improvement works to the historic building. Grant funding has been provided by the Bishopwearmouth Townscape Heritage Scheme, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Sunderland City Council.

Sunderland City Council was awarded £1.9m in funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund for the Bishopwearmouth Townscape Heritage Scheme in 2018. This, combined with contributions from the owners and tenants, will see an expected £3m invested in the Minster Quarter through the five-year scheme.

Councillor Kevin Johnston, Cabinet Member for Dynamic City at Sunderland City Council said: “The Bishopwearmouth Townscape Heritage Scheme is transforming the look and feel of some of Sunderland’s most historic locations.

“I am delighted to see this work in High Street West complete – enhancing another piece of the city’s history as the development of the city centre continues at pace, and we continue to see the important contribution our heritage can make to the city’s economic regeneration.”

Grant aided restoration works have already been completed at The Peacock, The Dun Cow, Sunderland Minster Churchyard and the rear wall of the Gibson Almshouses. In addition, Minster Park was completely revitalised in 2020 and was a shortlisted finalist for a Landscape Institute Award in November 2021. Further restoration projects are planned for 2022-23 including the Victoria Buildings on Low Row, home to Streetbar and Victoria’s.

Lee Robson, Director of Theatre Leisure which manages The Rabbit, said: “We are very pleased to be doing our part and restoring these beautiful buildings back to their former glory, and we’re excited to be part of the City of Sunderland’s Music, Arts and Culture Quarter quarter area going forward.

“We would like to thank our customers and local trading partners for their patience and continued support whilst this work has been carried out, as well as the Bishopwearmouth Townscape Heritage team for their guidance throughout the process.”

Ivor Crowther, Head of Investment England North at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “Money raised by National Lottery players has achieved an incredible amount for Sunderland’s heritage, with more than £36m invested into projects including the Fire Station, Hylton Castle and Holy Trinity Church. We’re delighted that Bishopwearmouth Townscape Heritage Scheme is one of those projects. This scheme is all about investing and helping to conserve and improve one of Sunderland’s most-loved and distinctive areas.”

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