Skip to content

Business & Economy

Sunderland ‘one of the places with greatest opportunity’, says Homes England boss

An influential housing policy expert has named Sunderland as a place where people “should be investing”.

Mike Palin, Homes England’s executive director for markets, partners and places, said the city passed all the tests to be named “one of the places with greatest opportunity” in the UK.

Addressing around 150 delegates at the recent Expo Sunderland, he outlined how the local authority’s approach was preparing the city for a prosperous future.

He said: “Sunderland is one of the leading places in what a future city might look like.

“There are five key tests to measure successful delivery: a clear vision; a good partnership approach – including partnerships across the private sector; alignment of effort to deliver on the plan; flexibility; and bringing together the right capability.

“If a place meets those five tests, that’s where you should be investing.”

He was speaking on a panel that also included Ed Whiting, director at the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, and Robin Denton, Microsoft local government director, at the expo, which explored how Sunderland City Council, working with stakeholders, partners and the Government, is delivering social and economic growth.

Mike added: “Sunderland has exceptional leadership, excellent partnership working, alignment of effort in everything it does – all joined-up in a coherent plan.

“If you want a place that typifies great leadership, Sunderland is it.”

Ed talked about the ‘ingredients’ needed to deliver growth and change, and the current levelling-up priorities that will support cities like Sunderland.

He said: “When cities underperform, the way to deal with that is to increase their size.

“We work with housing programmes, ways of attracting private investment and place-specific regeneration.

“You can’t build a growing economy without jobs, and we’re working with all kinds of partners about how to build a successful city centre, just like what is happening here in Sunderland.”

Patrick Melia, Sunderland City Council chief executive, said he hoped the event would be an opportunity to learn, share ideas and ultimately inspire further growth and development.

He added: “We are creating opportunities for everyone in a connected, international city.

“If all our residents are proud to live in Sunderland, we’ve achieved our ambition; 1000 new homes, doubling the city centre housing capacity, along with new commercial developments, will ensure everyone feels the benefit of our investment.”