HOUSING minister Kris Hopkins visited Sunderland during a whistle-stop tour of the North East.
Mr Hopkins, MP for Keighley, West Yorkshire, stopped off at two sheltered housing schemes which are being built in the city.
On a tour of Dovecote Meadow, in Fordfield Road, the Conservative politician chatted with residents who will be moving in once the first phase is ready in June.
“It’s an amazing project,” he said. “It’s about creating a really caring, safe place for older people to live.
“I’ve been talking to some of the residents here who hope to be in in the next few weeks, and who think it’s going to be a really lovely place to live.”
Mr Hopkins was also due to visit a second development at Seafarers’ Way in Hendon.
Both schemes, developed by Keepmoat Homes, are the result of a partnership between Sunderland City Council and the private sector.
Dovecote Meadow, a partnership project with social housing provider Housing & Care 21, which will create 175 privately owned and rented apartments, and Seafarers Way are among of the first privately funded extra-care housing schemes in the country.
“It’s also about jobs,” Mr Hopkins said. “I saw the chief executive of the council there, and there is £100million being spent in housing provision right across the council which is a great way of boosting the economy.”
Of those hoping to move into Dovecote Meadow by June are Sheila, 77, and Gerald Collier, 79, who are currently sharing the home of their daughter on Ford Estate.
“We chose it because it’s all on the flat,” Mrs Collier said. “At the moment we have to go up and down the stairs and we were also after somewhere that’s smaller.”
Derek Hunter, 80, who is looking to move to the development with wife Stella, 71, said he was looking forward to it “very much”.
Councillor Graeme Miller, portfolio holder for health, housing and adult services, said : “I’m delighted to welcome the minister to our city to see for himself the housing developments which have been made possible due to successful partnership working.
“The extra care schemes enable older residents to live independently in their own home for longer with access to care services, social, health and wellbeing activities.”