ONE of the region's most ambitious residential developments - the first part of a 1,000-home plan - has taken a major step forward.

Sunderland City Council has announced that North East based Tolent is set to take on the construction of 132 homes that will form the new Vaux neighbourhood at Riverside Sunderland, as one element of a blueprint to double the number of people living in the city centre.

The project will see Tolent construct the ultra-sustainable houses using modern methods of construction, renewable energy and smart technology which reduce the carbon footprint of the development, producing high quality, low carbon properties in the heart of the city.

The four new communities at Riverside Sunderland will create city centre housing for up to 2,500 residents and provide a future living offer that will attract new and existing residents to live in the vibrant city centre. The homes will sit alongside the orchards and allotments of Kingsley Gardens and nearby Riverside Park.

It is expected that work will get started on the initial enabling works within weeks, with the Vaux neighbourhood to be the site of the 2023 Sunderland Future Living Expo which will showcase the new homes and an aspirational lifestyle.

Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “The housing developments on Riverside Sunderland will be world-class, and Tolent are a fantastic partner, based locally and capable of building the stunning properties we are aspiring to develop on this site.

“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 our future generations to learn how to build the homes of the future.

"We’re proud to work with Tolent – a firm that will deliver significant social value – to ensure that these new homes deliver the maximum local advantage possible.”

The contract with Tolent will be confirmed late November and, as part of the programme, they will deliver 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.

Andy McLeod, chief executive of Tolent, said: “The scheme represents a unique opportunity to redefine the way we construct homes in the region and will allow us to deliver new skills to local people and support the growth of new regional supply chains.

“It will also be great to be back at Riverside Sunderland following our work on the Beam Riverside which we completed in 2019.”

Construction work on the development is due to commence in November and the first tranche of homes will be completed by May 2023.

The housing is part of an ambitious and exciting masterplan for Riverside Sunderland that will include residential, commercial and leisure developments, all part of a programme of projects in the Riverside Sunderland area that, aim to increase employment by 50 per cent.