Sunderland Arc placed a notice in the Official Journal of the European Union this week for a strategic development partner to deliver a mixed use, commercial and residential regeneration development.

The scheme will be one of the north east's largest employment-led regeneration projects.

The Tesco-owned site has been the subject of much debate since both the council and Sunderland Arc opposed Tesco’s plans to build a 100,000 sq ft supermarket-led scheme with 300,000 sq ft of offices and 350 homes.

Sunderland Arc argued that there were other sites in the city better suited to retail-led developments.

Tesco had agreed to sell the Vaux site if the supermarket could obtain planning permission for a supermarket-led development on an alternative site in the city.

Following this, Tesco confirmed earlier this year that it was in talks with Sunderland Retail Park, which is owned by Mountview Securities to become the preferred operator on the site.

The developer submitted its planning application last month.

However, negotiations between Tesco and Sunderland Arc regarding the Vaux brewery site continue, though the former still owns the site.

David Walker, chief executive of Sunderland Arc, said: 'We understand that Tesco are in the process of securing an alternative site, and their agents are progressing with a planning application for the site.

'Negotiations have been going on with Tesco for some time and they do continue.

'But we are trying to push things further, so that once Tesco have secured their site, we will already have a development partner ready to move the site forward.’

Sunderland Arc was given outline planning approval for their own proposals on the site which included 1,000 new homes, 506,000 sq ft of offices, a small retail development, and a hotel by the Secretary of the State in March 2007.

This was also backed by a government planning inspector.

Walker said: ‘We are conscious of the time it has taken to bring this site forward, so we don’t want any further delay in bringing developments on.

'It is a big site and a major city centre scheme - there are not many sites of this calibre in the UK so it is a major opportunity for somebody.’

Michael Kissman, corporate affairs aanager for Tesco, said ‘We are the owners of the former Vaux brewery site and are committed to delivering a mix of public spaces, homes, offices, cafes and restaurants as well as a new Tesco store.

'Talks are continuing with Sunderland Council and One North East about a store to the south of the River Wear and we still believe that the Vaux is an appropriate site.’

Partners of Sunderland Arc, including One North-east, Sunderland Council and English Partnerships are launching the scheme on September 24 at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland to increase awareness of the site and the opportunities.