Construction firm Tolent has been awarded a £15m contract to build a skills training centre for the production of prefabricated housing in Sunderland.
The Housing Innovation & Construction Skills Academy (HICSA) is being built to provide “next generation skills for next generation homes.”
The new centre aims to bolster Sunderland’s capabilities in advanced manufacturing, carbon reduction and renewable energy.
The facility will re-purpose an existing goods shed at Sheepfolds, on the corner of Hay Street. It will be operated by Sunderland College with support from education and industry partners including the Ministry of Building Innovation & Education (MOBIE), led by TV architect George Clark.
Sunderland City Council has appointed Tolent as main contractor for the HICSA project and hopes that construction will start later this year, once the technical design is complete. Planning consent for the development was granted in March 2022.
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Council leader, Graeme Miller, said: “I’m pleased that we have appointed a construction partner able to help us drive forward with a development that is of huge significance to the city – a development that will fuel the development of construction skills that will make Sunderland a leader in MMC [modern methods of construction] and retrofit.
“With Tolent working on the development of the first housing scheme on Vaux too, it is quite fitting that they will also be building the training academy that will develop skills to help us deliver future phases of residential development at Riverside Sunderland.”
Tolent chief executive, Paul Webster, added: “We’re delighted to have been appointed to construct this trailblazing academy that will help nurture the next generation of skilled people, who will build homes of the future in Sunderland.
“The talent that emerges from HICSA will no doubt power our own future skills pipeline, so we’re pleased to be playing a part in bringing this important project forward.”
Image: An artist’s impression of the new skills centre’s interior (credit: Riverside Sunderland)
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