Sunderland’s missed housing opportunity

The vast open area of land on Chester Road that once housed hundreds of council built properties has long been a topic of discussions.

Monday, 25th March 2019, 10:49 am
Updated Monday, 25th March 2019, 10:53 am

It is a tale well chronicled on television programmes, in articles by the local media and national housing magazines, almost as a model example of failed housing policy.

It began with the lamentable record of Sunderland’s Labour-led Council allowing traditionally built properties around 50 years old to fall into such disrepair that many, at the time of the stock transfer, were unfit for habitation. Then came the demolitions by the newly-formed Sunderland Housing Group, around twice as many city-wide than was envisaged. On the sidelines the Labour Council watched as Gentoo overreached itself financing businesses which ultimately failed, lost money and had nothing to do with the remit to build social housing

Top of the range executive houses were being built in places like the Tyne Valley and Gosforth, while Pennywell remained empty providing a nice wide open area for horses and ponies to quietly graze.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

But now at long last some good news. Gentoo will soon be building its usually good-standard properties on the Chester Road site, as permission was recently granted for new housing. However, there is still a sting in the tail for such is the cost of the development that no affordable houses are included in this initial stage.

Sadly a classic example on how to get just about everything wrong on a prime site for building relatively inexpensive houses either to buy or rent.

But one of the most damaging aspects out of all this mess, created initially by the Labour Council’s neglect, has been the year-on-year loss of vast amounts of council tax receipts towards the many essential services for the people of Sunderland.

Coun Michael Dixon,


St Michael’s Ward