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Ayres Quay

Housing industry leaders and heads of government departments heard how a North East city is playing a key role in the UK’s housing revolution at a national expo last week.

Sunderland City Council chief, Patrick Melia, was among a coveted roster of speakers to present at Homes UK’s Virtual Event, where he shared details of the city’s housing strategy, and how it is leading the way in delivering a variety of modern, environmentally-friendly homes to meet residents’ needs.  

As well as hearing about the city’s plans, attendees at the event were able to see just how serious the city is about realising its ambitions, with a sustainable housing scheme - set to be developed as part of the regeneration of Riverside Sunderland – having won the UK Government’s Home of 2030 award.

Sustainable property specialist igloo Regeneration, alongside Mawson Kerr, Useful Projects and Cast, worked up the designs, which will take centre stage at a Future Living Expo taking place in 2023.

At the event, Mr Melia presented the city’s approach to housing, highlighting how the council is both driving private sector investment in new schemes, and building and converting its own proprieties, in order to ensure that Sunderland has the range of dwellings needed for its residents now and in the future.  He also shared how the city is building plans to manufacture its own homes off-site, training up the next generation in modern methods of construction to allow them to build sustainable, design-led communities, creating jobs and opportunities. 

Mr Melia said: “It was brilliant to be able to share Sunderland’s plans around housing with some of the industry’s brightest minds at Homes UK.  We know that we are doing something really special in the city, when it comes to attracting investment into our communities as well as driving some of the change ourselves through our social housing programme, and to be able to share our own approach with others at Homes UK demonstrates the national interest this has attracted.”

The event also saw the council officially launch a national design competition in partnership with TV architect George Clarke’s educational charity MOBIE and the CTI (Confederation of Timber Industries) which will see teams of undergraduates from across the UK work together to design how communities on Riverside Sunderland might look.  

The competition, which will make use of CTI’s connections to universities across the country, will bring together multi-disciplinary teams of student Architects, Architectural Technologists, Designers, Quantity Surveyors, Planners, Building Service Engineers, Project Managers and Landscape Architects to come up with coordinated design proposals for part of the Riverside Sunderland site.

The challenge is one of two that are running to help inspire the development of Riverside Sunderland – the other being a schools competition that will see students from across the city in a number of age categories, come up with design ideas for homes of the future.  

The national competition officially launched on Friday, December 4 with over 20 Universities invited to take part.  Students will have until Friday, April 2 2021 to develop their proposals, with students from the North East, Manchester, Sheffield, Birmingham, London and Nottingham among those expected to compete.

The council has a detailed housing strategy that sets out ambitions to build more than 7,000 new homes in Sunderland over the next ten years.  The city’s vision has enabled it to attract investment from a range of housebuilders which will see two new coastal communities take shape at Seaburn, led by Avant Homes and Miller Homes; a £40m scheme delivered by Karbon Homes in North Hylton and a £400m+ plan by Gentoo to invest in its existing stock, as well as new schemes. Sunderland City Council has also revealed its ambitions to develop contemporary new city centre homes on the Riverside Sunderland site, at Northern Spire Park alongside the stunning Northern Spire bridge, and on the site of its existing Civic Centre, and – as a newly registered Social Housing Provider, the council will be bringing more than 360 empty properties into use as family homes over the next five years; delivering 117 new build bungalows; and through new build, conversion and refurbishment, will create 95 new homes as supported accommodation.