Landscaping and natural play areas will form part of a £5m raft of improvements to an urban strip of coastline.
Sunderland City Council, which recently secured £2m from the Government's coastal communities fund, will put up £800,000 towards a leisure-led development at Ocean Park at Seaburn. The authority will also pay £2.3m for improvements to nearby Roker.
The council is seeking a development partner for the 7.4ha Ocean Park site, underused for several years. Environmental improvements will make parts of the site more attractive for wildlife and will also include a natural play area.
At Roker, planned promenade improvements include extending the feature lighting which last year won a national award, the refurbishment of an existing play area and new play equipment.
Councillor Mel Speding said: "We've seen a number of improvements to the seafront since our seafront consultation in 2009 and this is borne out by the level of private-sector interest we're beginning to attract.
"Private sector investment is key to helping us deliver the kind of facilities people tell us they want at the seafront. Development of the Ocean Park site will be a major catalyst in the regeneration of the seafront."