Sunniside Research

26 May 2023

Sunniside is a historic area within Sunderland City Centre that is home to many professional services and creative businesses and about to be home to the UK eSports elite video games teams.  It is also made up of fashionable independent stores, bistros, restaurants, and bars. Over the years, it has seen popular festivals such as Sunniside Live which attracted national, headline acts and hundreds of people visiting and lately, it is home to a new independent food market.

In the Victorian era it was home to the city’s banks, mercantile insurance professionals and foreign consulates, but decayed as a destination over the decades until it was earmarked for urban regeneration in 2003 and has been on the rise ever since.

As ever-increasing development takes place across the city and exciting city centre spots open up – as well as a vibrant sea front – it is more important than ever to ensure that Sunniside raises its game to attract footfall, not least by introducing new events and attracting new businesses.

Sunderland Bid, alongside Sunderland City Council therefore intend to allocate funding from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund to support a two-year programme of animation and activation events that will work alongside some further regeneration taking place in the area.

This programme will run from June 2023 through to March 2025 and will include around 38 events to improve footfall, dwell time and overall improvements to the perception and attractiveness of the area.

We are therefore looking to measure perceptions of the area with residents, visitors as well as local businesses over the two-year period.

We are looking for an experienced market research / behavioural insights agency that has experience of city centre perceptions and event research to design a two-year research programme.

Examples of topics we are looking to explore:

  • Overall perception of Sunniside and how people typically use the area – particularly barriers and facilitators to visiting the area
  • Understanding perceptions of parking within the area
  • Perceptions of safety in the city, i.e. antisocial behaviour / crime
  • Ideas for events and venues
  • What would attract different ages and demographics i.e. from young people to parents of young children through to older people who enjoy eating out / entertainment
  • Residents’ views on how the city is developing and what would make them choose Sunderland – particularly Sunniside - as an entertainment destination
  • How much money they typically spend on a night / day out

As the animation and events take place within the area, we are then looking to monitor:

  • Whether people took part and enjoyed the events – which elements they liked and disliked
  • For those that visited, we’d like to know how many places they visited (inside and outside of Sunniside) and how much they typically spent during a visit
  • Where they heard about the events
  • Whether they’d recommend the events to friends/family
  • Will they visit the area when events aren’t on
  • Did they feel safe in the area 
  • How far they travelled to come to the events

The types of groups that we’d be looking to research would be:

  • General residents – a good representation of areas within the city, a spread of age, gender, and socioeconomic status
  • Non-residents – those within a 20-30 minute journey to/from Sunderland City Centre
  • Businesses within Sunniside
  • Young people


We are looking for a research agency that can demonstrate local knowledge of the Sunderland area, particularly the City Centre. It would therefore be advantageous if the winning provider were able to provide case studies and demonstrate local knowledge and understanding of being able to engage with the above groups within and around Sunderland.  


It is expected that research methods will include a level of both online methods as well as more traditional methods.

There should also be innovative suggestions on how to encourage and incentivise participation.