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New contractor for Vaux housing scheme

25 August, 2023

Wates has been appointed as preferred contractor to complete work on 135 new sustainable homes in Sunderland, forming one of the UK's most ambitious residential developments.

The contractor will take over construction of Vaux's new neighbourhood of super-sustainable properties built using modern methods of construction, after previous contractor Tolent fell into administration.

Wates Construction - one of the leading privately owned construction, development, and property services companies in the UK - is currently undertaking preconstruction activities ahead of recommencement of main construction activities on site later this year.   The firm was appointed following a competitive process to find a replacement contractor to take over works on the market-defining development and is working towards completion of the project in Autumn 2025. 

The structural frames, floor slabs, and external walls for the new apartment blocks have been assembled by UK leader in light gauge steel framing, Sigmat, who recommenced work on site in May 2023 and are due to complete this element of the development by September 2023.  Wates will then take over the works to complete the scheme, which represents the first of four new residential communities across Riverside Sunderland, a fast-changing brownfield development site on the edge of the city centre. 

Vaux Housing is being delivered by Sunderland City Council, with the ambition that Riverside Sunderland will eventually provide 1,000 city centre homes for up to 2,500 residents.

The development will comprise apartments, townhouses, and maisonettes, using modern methods of construction, renewable energy systems and smart technology to reduce the carbon footprint of the development, while producing high quality, energy efficient properties in the beating heart of the city.

Councillor Kevin Johnston, portfolio holder for dynamic city at Sunderland City Council, said: "We're pleased to be progressing delivery of this important scheme, and the appointment of the replacement main contractor will create added momentum following the successful topping-out of the first apartment block. 

"These homes will deliver a huge boost to the city centre, the more people living and working in the new community, the more they spend money in our shops, cafes, bars and restaurants and enjoy everything Sunderland has to offer.  I can't wait to see these attractive new homes welcome residents."

The majority of the properties will be built to 2025 Future Homes Standard with 21 built to PASSIVHAUS standard, delivering high levels of energy efficiency. 

David Wingfield, regional director for Yorkshire & North East at Wates Construction, said: "This scheme will offer more than just new homes - they'll be cheaper to heat, better for the environment, and support a strong community in the heart of Sunderland. We applaud Sunderland City Council's commitment to sustainability through Vaux and its wider Riverside programme, and we're proud to have been appointed to deliver this first phase."

"We're well on with the preconstruction phase, drawing upon our extensive expertise delivering sustainable builds across the region and nationally to ensure we meet Passivhaus standards wherever possible. This is alongside creating a thorough programme of community investment initiatives which will ensure the benefits of Vaux are felt by more than just residents, but the wider Sunderland region."

Included in the scheme will be a cluster of award-winning homes, selected as the best in the national Homes of 2030 Design Competition - which explored how homes will look and function in the future.  The competition, managed by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) on behalf of the Department for Levelling Up Housing and Communities - encouraged the design of environmentally-friendly dwellings 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 joint winners of the competition, and it is their designs that will stand proudly on the site, 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.

All homes at Riverside Sunderland will provide a future living offer that will attract new and existing Sunderland residents to live in the vibrant city centre, with the properties sitting alongside the orchards and allotments of Kingsley Gardens and nearby Riverside Park, which is continuing its journey towards becoming an accessible, attractive, and ecologically diverse parkland. The Vaux neighbourhood will be a key focus of Expo Sunderland in 2025, an event that will showcase homes of the future and the vibrant, aspirational lifestyle that Sunderland provides.

Vaux housing is part of an ambitious and exciting new community at Riverside Sunderland that will include residential, commercial and leisure developments. The programme of development projects in the Riverside Sunderland area, taken together, aims to double the residential population in the city centre and increase employment by 50 per cent and fits with the city's housing strategy, which will see 7,000 new homes built by 2030. 

Vaux housing is being delivered with £6.1m of grant support from the Government's Levelling Up Fund, and £2.1m from the Department of Levelling Up Housing and Communities to support the delivery of the Homes of 2030.

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

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