North East construction firm lands Vaux housing deal

One of the North East’s most ambitious residential developments is set to begin, with Tolent appointed to commence work. 

Sunderland City Council has signed a deal that will see North East based Tolent take on the construction of 135 ultra-modern homes that will form the new Vaux neighbourhood at Riverside Sunderland, the first of 1,000 homes planned for the area as part of ambitious plans to double the number of people living in the city centre.

The £40m project will see Tolent construct the stunning sustainable houses using modern methods of construction, renewable energy and smart technology to reduce the carbon footprint of the development, producing high quality, low carbon properties in the heart of the city. The homes will stand alongside The Beam and City Hall – the latest development to rise from the ground at Riverside Sunderland. 

One of four new communities that will take shape at Riverside, construction work on the scheme is expected to commence within weeks, forming the first of the new distinct neighbourhoods that will create city centre housing for up to 2,500 residents. 

The homes will provide a future living offer that will attract new and existing Sunderland residents to live in the vibrant city centre, with the homes sitting alongside the orchards and allotments of Kingsley Gardens and nearby Riverside Park, which is continuing on its journey towards an accessible, attractive and ecologically diverse parkland. The Vaux neighbourhood will be the site of the Expo Sunderland in 2024 which will showcase the new homes and the aspirational lifestyle offer that Sunderland will provide.

Included in the scheme will be a cluster of award-winning dwellings, that were selected as the best in the national Homes of 2030 Design Competition – which explored how homes will look and function in the future. 

The properties are based on the winning designs in the Homes of 2030 competition, which was launched in March 2020, and managed by the Royal Institute of British Architects, to encourage the design of environmentally-friendly homes that support people in leading independent, fulfilling lives as society ages. 

+Home designed by igloo Regeneration with Useful Projects, Expedition Engineers and Mawson Kerr and Connector Housing designed by Openstudio with Hoare Lea, LDA Design and Gardiner & Theobald were the joint winners of the competition, and it is their designs that will stand proudly on the site if approved, shining a spotlight on future living and showcasing the ambitious plans the council has to make Sunderland a world-class place to live, work and play.

Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “We’re absolutely thrilled to have taken this final step to get work started on our flagship residential scheme at Riverside Sunderland. The housing developments on Riverside Sunderland will be world-class, and Tolent is an ideal partner to deliver them, based locally and capable of building these aspirational homes.

“We’re innovating with this scheme, using modern methods of construction, renewable energy and smart technology that align to our low carbon and smart city ambitions, and that will also allow the next generation to learn how to build the homes of the future, as we also push ahead with the Housing Innovation and Construction Skills Academy (HICSA), an important part of the housing ecosystem we’re trying to create in Sunderland.”

HICSA is backed by the Government’s Levelling Up Fund and will create a state of the art learning space at Sheepfolds, where – in partnership with Sunderland College and the Ministry of Building Innovation and Education (MOBIE) – the council will ensure that the city’s residents are trained up in modern construction methods that will enable them to build many of the 1,000 homes set to be developed on Riverside Sunderland, as well as elsehere in the city. 

As HICSA prepares to take shape, Tolent – a firm that will deliver significant social value – will ensure that the first new homes deliver the maximum local advantage, with a range of commitments to work with local people and support the local supply chain, as well as voluntary and community organisations across Sunderland.

In all, over £17m of social value activity – including supporting local jobs for a range of people including apprenticeships and placements, a commitment to spend in the local area through the growth of regional supply chains and a variety of schemes to engage with local community groups – will be delivered during the construction phase of the project.

Paul Webster, chief executive officer of Tolent, said: “Vaux neighbourhood is an amazing project that showcases the strides being taken in Sunderland to modernise the city centre. The world-class houses being built will provide a community fit for the future and an archetype for sustainable housing. As a truly local business, we are proud to be involved in the project and to showcase our ability to meet and exceed the capabilities of national contractors on a local level.

The project will complement a number of local landmarks that we have constructed including The Beam, Beacon of Light and Echo Building. We have been working closely with the entire team since being appointed preferred bidder back in September and we can’t wait to get started!”

Construction work on the development is due to commence during the summer and the first tranche of homes will be completed by the end of 2023.

The housing is part of an ambitious and exciting masterplan for Riverside Sunderland that will include residential, commercial and leisure developments. It is part of a programme of development projects in the Riverside Sunderland area that, taken together, aim to double the residential population in the city centre and increase employment by 50 per cent and also fits with the city’s housing strategy, which will see 7,000 new homes build by 2030. 

To stay up to date with Riverside Sunderland developments, visit www.riversidesunderland.com or follow @RiversideSund on social media.