'Now I'm in it's going to take a team of horses to tear me out': Sunderland Council builds first homes in 40 years

Nestled among the two storey semis of Sunderland are five new bungalows.  Purpose built, owned and let by the city's council. Robert Cooper is one of their tennants.

"So far it's been great, I really like it", he says. "They're great. Now I'm in it's going to take a team of horses to tear me out."

Lung disease meant Robert was struggling to live in his two storey home. He needed to down-size and move closer to family.

"I'm catching my breath as you can tell, walking up and down stairs was a no go."

Robert Cooper stood on the doorstep of his new council-built bungalow in Sunderland. Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

Sunderland was once a city of council homes. More than 36,000 were sold off 20 years ago in what was then the biggest hand over of council housing to a housing association in the UK.

Sunderland-born Paul Swinney, director of policy and research at the Centre for Cities think-tank, says:

The interest now that local authorities are showing is pointing back to probably what we had in the 50s and the 60s. Of course the house building industry has moved on and the types of houses that people want has moved on too, so we just need to be very clear about the roll that local authorities are wanting to play and that they're adding something to the mix...

Paul Swinney, Centre for Cities

The council says its focus is on bringing empty properties back into use and providing accessible and supported accommodation for vulnerable residents.

Cllr Rebecca Atkinson from Sunderland City Council says: "Times, demand and also vulnerabilities have changed. We have an aging population, we need to provide housing that other providers aren't."

"So bungalows that's probably the most in demand house within this city, so as a council we need to provide those."

The council has committed to build more than a hundred new bungalows over the next four years.

The UK housing shortage has been described as one of the biggest challenges the country faces, these new homes aim to address that while solving the daily challenges faced by many like Robert.