Plans for major housing 'academy' site in Sunderland move closer

Plans for a cutting-edge training unit that will see Sunderland people trained to build and upgrade the city’s homes are set to take a step forward next week.

How the new training centre will look
How the new training centre will look

Sunderland City Council’s cabinet are expected to give the go-ahead to seek funding to build a Housing Innovation and Construction Skills Academy (HICSA)

in the Sheepfolds area of the city.

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It will aim train and upskill local people to factory-built new homes, the first of which will be assembled at Riverside Sunderland.

The training academy will - if funding is secured - allow Sunderland to ensure local people play a leading role in constructing homes of the future.

The city also believes the plans fit with the UK Government’s levelling up agenda – creating more economic opportunities for people and businesses by enabling the area to ‘build its own’.

Cllr Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said that the authority is committed to making HICSA a reality, creating opportunities for young people to train in modern construction techniques.

He said: “We have an ambition to build 1,000 new homes on the Riverside Sunderland site, and we want them to be absolutely world-class.

“Sunderland people are known internationally for their ability to make things – from ships in bygone years to cars today.

"We now have an opportunity to be a global leader when it comes to modern methods of construction – if we put in place the right infrastructure to deliver more highly-skilled people.”

He added: “The HICSA will create opportunities for the people of Sunderland and carve out a new industry and to build homes that will allow it to grow its reputation as a place to live, work and play.”

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City leaders hope that HICSA, which will cost around £14m to build, will receive financial support as part of the Government’s Build Back Better and Levelling Up agendas.

Cllr Miller added: “It’s about giving the region the infrastructure it needs, and then watching it realise its vast potential.”

George Clarke, founder of Ministry of Building Innovation and Education, which is a partner in the project, 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.”