An ambitious community housing development in Sunderland has won a coveted national award.

Valiant Close, part of Sunderland City Council’s Housing Delivery and Investment Plan (HDIP) – a £59m programme launched in 2020 – has been named Best Housing, Regeneration or New Build Initiative at the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) Awards. The accolades recognise frontline services provided by UK local authorities and are extremely competitive, with over 300 submissions from across the UK.

Valiant Close – formerly Cork Street – is a new development in Sunderland’s East End and phase one is now complete.  It is a new community of specially-adapted bungalows that have been designed specifically for people with physical disabilities, and also includes a new £1.4m disability resource centre to help residents enjoy a quality of life and access support.  Phase two is expected to complete later this year.

The council’s HDIP, which aims to unlock 193 accessible properties, 210 general-needs homes, and 171 supported homes for affordable rent – 80 per cent of market rate – by 2025, has got off to a successful start, with around half of the £59m spent or committed and a large proportion of commitments made already on track or delivered.  Many of the council’s tenancies are with older people and vulnerable residents and there is a keen focus on developing more one-story homes and supported accommodation, which is an area of need highlighted by Sunderland’s adult social care team.

Councillor Kevin Johnston, dynamic city cabinet member, said: “It’s great for the council to win this award and to be recognised nationally for its work to ensure the city’s most vulnerable residents have housing that enables them to lead the most independent and fulfilled life possible.

“We are delivering on our promise to build and acquire homes that are fit for purpose and kitted out with the latest technology to assist people with high needs, as well as supporting Sunderland’s low carbon ambitions.  The plan is built on supporting residents, meeting the specific needs of the city.”

One key part of the HDIP is the use of technology to enrich the lives of residents. Assistive technology has been fitted in many of the council’s new homes, in line with the individual tenants’ requirements, this includes everything from smart doorbells to remote controlled lights.  All of the homes at Valiant Close include technology to enable residents to live independently as possible, and most are fully accessible for wheelchair users.

The homes also feature smart devices that help people who live there to reduce energy consumption, not only keeping bills down but helping save the planet in the process.

“The housing team has worked closely with the adult social care team to respond to the needs of people now and in the future,” added Cllr Johnston.

“This co-working means that the properties developed are absolutely tuned in to the needs of older and disabled people in the city, with the right adaptations made to ensure they can live comfortably and independently.

“There is a constant dialogue allowing future needs to be anticipated, and ensuring the city delivers the housing stock residents will need in the years ahead.”

And the value of the plan extends beyond this, with the council working to ensure that every pound spent on the project brings in the maximum social and economic value for the people of Sunderland.

Each of the schemes is pumping hundreds of thousands of pounds into the local economy, sustaining local jobs directly and through the supply chain. A range of local artists have also been commissioned to create stunning sculptures and public art that will stand among new developments, to ensure communities are as attractive as possible, while also boosting the creative industries too.

The winners of the awards were announced at the end of APSE’s annual seminar, which took place in Swansea on September 14 and 15.