Sunderland is in the running to scoop a national award for its £59m investment programme aimed at delivering on the housing needs of the city.

Sunderland City Council has made the national shortlist of the Housing Award at the LGC Awards 2021, which recognise outstanding local authority achievement across the UK.

The council has been recognised for its Housing Delivery and Investment Plan (HDIP) which saw the authority become a Registered Provider for the first time in 20 years.

It follows a commendation – in the MJ Awards’ Best Social Housing Initiative – for the same programme in recognition of the local authority’s efforts to serve its community over the past 12 months, delivering affordable homes for rent for residents across the city.

Being in the running for the LGC Awards – which attract competition from councils across the UK – highlights the strides made by the council, only 18 months since launching its HDIP with the aim of improving Sunderland’s housing provision for vulnerable people and those seeking quality affordable homes for rent.

Already more than 100 homes have been acquired, built or are under construction.

By 2025 the council is aiming to bring 362 empty properties back into use, deliver 117 new build bungalows and create 95 new supported accommodation properties.

Councillor Kevin Johnston, dynamic city portfolio holder, said: “The council’s efforts to once again rent properties to residents in the city for the first time in 20 years, and indeed to build the first council houses in 40 years, has been an important step for us, and one I am proud we have taken.

“The recognition from the MJs last month, and now the LGC Awards today, is significant because it measures us against local authorities across the country.

“This shows just how far we have come in less than 18 months since we embarked on the HDIP programme, which we are determined will raise the bar for social housing in the city.

“We are working hard – along with other social housing providers, and indeed with private landlords and housebuilders, to ensure Sunderland has the right mix of homes to deliver on residents’ needs.

“We are pleased this has been recognised. It’s vindication of the hard work of the team that is driving this programme and of the impact this plan is having on people’s lives across Sunderland.”

Both the LGC and the MJ Awards are held annually and attract applications from local authorities across the UK with a range of categories that recognise best practice in a number of areas.

▪ Pictured above (left to right): Southwick Ward councillors Michael Butler, Kelly Chequer and Alex Samuels alongside Coun Kevin Johnson, dynamic city portfolio holder, at the Elmwood Avenue development – part of the portfolio that has attracted national recognition.