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Housing building pace just 12 months in

A £59m housing programme that aims to create scores of new council houses is off to a flying start, with more than 100 properties already being built or bought.

Sunderland City Council has revealed that it has 101 homes – of all kinds – either acquired, built or under construction, and has already managed to secure 32 empty properties, which will be brought back into use as affordable rental properties for residents across the city.

In a Housing Delivery and Investment Plan (HDIP) progress report, submitted to Sunderland City Council’s Cabinet, the council revealed that it is on course to achieve ambitious targets, which include the delivery of 117 new build council-owned bungalows and aspirations to bring more than 360 empty homes back to life.  Just a year into a five-year programme, figures show that more than 50 per cent of the bungalows it aimed to deliver across the city have either been secured, built or are under construction.  And 27 supported accommodation properties have been secured, against a target of 95.

The progress has been described as ‘a huge step forward in just 12 months’ by Dynamic City Cabinet Member, Councillor Rebecca Atkinson, who has overseen the council’s return to being a registered provider, after a 20-year hiatus. 

Cllr Atkinson said: “The progress made on this important agenda in such a short space of time – and despite the challenges presented by COVID-19 - demonstrates our commitment to delivering the homes our residents need, providing a high-standard of accommodation and affordable rental rates, something that we think all of our residents deserve.

“We made a commitment a year ago to return to building council houses and renting out properties to residents, and we have mobilised to achieve the stretching goals we set ourselves.  It’s a real credit to the team working on this in the council, and I am delighted with the progress we’re making.”

The Housing Delivery and Investment Plan also seeks to maximise the social value it delivers by working, where possible, with local providers and businesses that deliver the greatest advantage – either by employing local people and supply chains or working with local communities.

Already more than 50 local businesses have been engaged to deliver against the HDIP and more than £2m of Homes England funding has been secured to support the programme. 

The report also highlights the ways in which HDIP is benefitting local people, with new council house residents talking of how the programme has improved their quality of life, as well as the improvement the empty homes programme is making to communities blighted by problematic properties. 

Cllr Atkinson added: “This is a programme that has so many positives.  It is improving the lives of local people; the local economy and is helping us to drive up the standard of homes in the city, with high-specification affordable properties that our residents deserve.”