There have been a number of comments made recently in various forums in relation to the provision of affordable housing in Sunderland and I would like to provide residents of the city with some further context.
As the main provider of low-cost, affordable housing in Sunderland, Gentoo continues to remain fully committed to providing rented homes for more than 60,000 people in over 28,000 properties across the city, investing in the region of £50m in existing housing in Sunderland every year.
Since Gentoo was formed in 2001, £262m has been invested in the construction of 2168 new homes to regenerate and completely transform estates across the city - around 73% of which have been made available for affordable rent. Our commercial house building arm, Gentoo Homes, has also played an important role in this through the construction of houses for sale across the wider North East region, which has helped to generate £3-4m subsidy per year to support the delivery of more affordable rented homes in Sunderland.
The long awaited successful planning decision on Chester Gate, formerly the Pennywell Estate, was celebrated widely at Gentoo recently. The first phase of 118 homes is planned to kick-start the regeneration of the new 500 unit development, and whilst we appreciate the first phase features homes purely for sale, Gentoo now has an ambitious new five year plan to add a minimum of 180 affordable homes for rent per year to its portfolio in Sunderland.
This is in addition to the 125 new affordable homes for rent we are currently working on delivering mainly at sites in Downhill and Fencehouses, therefore taking Gentoo’s provision of additional low cost homes for rent in Sunderland to more than 1000 properties over the next five to six years.
It is extremely difficult to build new social housing in today’s housing market due to a number of factors, including the high costs involved in building new homes, significant competition from other housebuilders and housing associations and the level of grant available from the Government in proportion to construction costs per unit. However, I assure you that Gentoo remains fully committed to meeting the housing needs of Sunderland residents within the constraints of the current housing market.
Group Chief Executive Officer, Gentoo Group