Formal proposals for the Housing Innovation and Construction Skills Academy (HICSA) have now been submitted to city development chiefs.
If approved, it is hoped that work on the £15 million scheme could begin later this year at its intended home at Sheepfolds, near the Stadium of Light, as part of a major programme of regeneration on Wearside.
The project is partly the brainchild of the Ministry of Building Innovation and Education (MOBIE), which Clarke set up to try and improve house-building in the UK.
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“HICSA is game-changing, so we very much hope this planning application is green-lit, so we can advance with the pace and energy Sunderland is renowned for,” said the host of Channel Four’s The Restoration Man.
“This is a truly innovative project and we’re really proud to be playing a part in it – particularly because of the boost it will deliver to my home city.
“There is a huge opportunity for Sunderland to play a leading role in defining how homes of the future look and, through HICSA, to develop an ecosystem that will allow people from the city to build them too.”
Once up and running, it is hoped that HICSA, which will be operated by Sunderland College, will train a new generation of house-builders, focusing on new “factory-built” methods.
As well as reducing the sector’s carbon footprint, it is also hoped the scheme will pave the way for a raft of new jobs.
HICSA is set to form part of the Riverside Sunderland Masterplan, including work on the former Vaux Brewery site and a £31 million ‘smart bridge’ over the River Wear.
Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, a third partner in the scheme, said: “The activity we drive as a council is geared towards creating jobs and opportunities for local people.
“Through HICSA we’re absolutely doing that, ensuring it is local people who will have the skills and expertise to build the homes of the future.”