The site neighbours the Stadium of Light. Credit: via Creo

Work starts on £15m HICSA

A key part of the Riverside Sunderland masterplan, the Housing Innovation and Construction Skills Academy will be delivered by Brims Construction for Sunderland College and the city council.

HICSA is billed as a groundbreaking training base that will educate and upskill local people with the technical skills to build, retrofit and create innovative factory-built new homes.

Layer.Studio is the landscape architect and Mawson Kerr the architect on the project.

Expected to be complete in summer 2025, HICSA will provide “next generation skills for next generation homes” said the scheme’s promoters, supporting the city’s ambitions across advanced manufacturing, carbon reduction and renewable energy.

The centre will sit in Sheepfolds, at the heart of Riverside Sunderland, where a repurposed existing goods shed on the corner of Hay Street, will be restored and connected to a new building that will be large enough to accommodate a full-sized facility enabling students to experience construction.

Cllr Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “Today is an exciting moment, as we prepare to build an Academy that will deliver lifechanging opportunities for the young people who will train here, enable us to embrace low carbon and advanced manufacturing and ultimately build more and better homes for our residents too.

“This is a brilliant example of partnership working in action. The college and the council coming together to deliver a scheme that will see Sunderland build on its heritage as a city of makers.”

Ellen Thinnesen, chief executive of Education Partnership North East which includes SunderlandCollege, said: “We’re thrilled to see HICSA about to become a reality.

“HICSA will provide a world-class industry gateway, aligned to Sunderland’s ambitious infrastructure investment and providing a future pipeline of skilled construction workers.

“Through technical learning environments students and apprentices will access full, part-time and modularised training options with pathways to jobs and upskilling opportunities for those seeking further career development.”

Sunderland College will operate the academy with support from a strategic construction and housing industry advisory board, including one of the founding partners, the Ministry of Building Innovation and Education (MOBIE), which is led by Washington-born TV architect, George Clarke.

He said: “What an opportunity this represents for the people of Sunderland.

“HICSA will be unlike any other training environment around, and it is right at the centre of an emerging community that will change the way people live – change the way we see housing. It’s superb for the city to be innovating in this way, and I am proud to be part of it.”

Other Riverside Sunderland projects include the already completed City Hall and The Beam, a new footbridge over the Wear, an eye hospital, also now on-site, and the multi-purpose Culture House venue, which Kier is to deliver.

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