THOUSANDS of homes will be built in a £300m investment which could revolutionise the rented housing sector in the North-East.

A range of five house types, from bungalow to four-bedroomed detached homes, will be developed initially on five sites across Sunderland and neighbouring Washington and Houghton-le-Spring.

The Sunderland Housing Group (SHG), which oversees Wearside's public housing stock, has pledged to make the homes up to 20 per cent larger than equivalent versions being built by private sector builders.

Subject to planning approval, work will start next month on the first 264 homes, at Holmlands in Houghton-le-Spring, Albany in Washington, Carley Hill in the north of Sunderland, and at Doxford Park and Ford Oval, in the south of the city.

SHG chief executive Peter Walls said the group aimed to develop up to 4,000 homes over five years, in what he described as the biggest house-building project seen in the Sunderland area for more than 30 years.

Mr Walls said: "Our plans are unique in the UK. No one else is building houses for rent and sale on this scale and certainly nothing else like this is happening in the social rented sector."

Mr Walls said the homes would be of modern and spacious design, and said rents would be highly competitive, varying between £62 and £80 per week, even for the largest four-bedroomed detached homes.