£20million Budget boost for Sunderland Housing Academy and eco-homes plan

Plans for a new base to train the next generation of eco-friendly housebuilders have taken a massive step forward.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a £20million commitment from the Government’s Levelling Up Fund in yesterday’s Budget to support the development of a Housing Innovation and Construction Skills Academy (HICSA) in Sunderland and creation of new sustainable housing.

Developed by Sunderland City Council, Education Partnership North East (EPNE) and Sunderland-born TV architect and presenter George Clarke’s Ministry of Building Innovation and Education (MOBIE), the academy will educate, train and upskill local people to create innovative factory-built new homes, the first of which will be assembled at Riverside Sunderland.

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In total, £9million will support the HICSA, with the remaining cash assisting the development of new sustainable communities in Sunniside and on Riverside Sunderland.

An artist's impression of the entrance

The facility will enable Sunderland to build the skills-base to upgrade the city’s homes, using modern construction methods, low carbon, renewable energy and smart technology and put Sunderland at the heart of the UK’s net zero ambitions.

The new academy will be built in Sheepfolds, close to the Stadium of Light, as part of the Riverside Sunderland plan.

City council leader Coun Graeme Miller said: “This is a leap forward in terms of our ambitious plans to place Sunderland at the heart of the UK’s net zero agenda, creating opportunities for young people to train in modern construction techniques, ensuring they have access to sustainable employment opportunities when they’re qualified.

“This is another step forward in Sunderland’s green revolution and I am pleased the Government has recognised the undeniable benefits this ambitious plan has brought to them.”

How the building will look
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Through the academy, young people will develop ultra-sustainable homes, constructed off-site and making use of the latest technological advancements, to ensure the properties that are built in the city are eco- friendly and digitally advanced.

Ellen Thinnesen, chief executive of EPNE, said the news was important for Sunderland’s future as a low-carbon city.

“We’re committed as a college to powering the green revolution, that we know will create sustainable opportunities for our young people, as well as advancing the agenda of the city when it comes to building homes using modern methods of construction that are faster to construct and deliver exemplary quality and energy efficiency standards,” she said.

The interior of the building
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“This is about future-proofing our young people – ensuring that they have the skills that will power the economy of tomorrow and we’re thrilled to be able to advance this important agenda and play a part in building a green future for Sunderland.”

George Clarke is excited to get started on the project. He said: “High quality homes are at the absolute heart of a successful society and a thriving economy, and by building them locally, Sunderland can maximise the benefit to the city.

"Training up the next generation in modern methods of construction is critical to ensure we are at the forefront when it comes to delivering on the future needs of the UK housing market and emerging industries.

"We are a city of makers, and HICSA will ensure that Sunderland becomes a known-leader in MMC.”

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To find out more about the plans for Riverside Sunderland, visit https://www.riversidesunderland.com

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