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Affordable homes completed

A couple have described how being given a new home on a £1.7 million eco-friendly affordable housing development has been “like winning the lottery”.
For the past three years former publicans Michael and Chris Jardine have been living in private rented  accommodation after moving back to the north east to be closer to their large family,
The couple then discovered that Durham Aged Mineworkers’ Homes Association (DAMHA) was building 17 new properties for social rent at St Helen Auckland.
Unfortunately, after various criteria for allocating people homes was applied they discovered they would miss out by one place on the waiting list. But someone dropped out, leaving the couple to snap up the remaining two-bedroom bungalow in Cheltenham Court.
Michael, Chris and their dog Max are now settling into their new surroundings and after years spent living and working in pubs, they are looking forward to a long and happy retirement in their home.
Chris, 65, said: “After so long working in the pub trade, a lot of it in London, we were keen to come home to retire and be near our family.
“We were not in a position to buy a home and the high cost of renting was a problem so finding out about, and eventually being able to get one of these homes, has been a godsend.
“It had been like winning the lottery and we couldn’t be happier.”
Chris and Michael, who have six children, 20 great grandchildren and one great grandchild, are hoping for lots of sunshine this spring and summer so they can make the most of the solar panels that are fitted on their home.
Michael said: “The panels help to heat the water so by the time it comes to winter we may even end up saving money on our energy bills.”
Paul Mullis, DAMHA Chief Executive, said: “We are delighted Chris and Michael are enjoying their new home in what is one of our largest new developments in recent years.
“There is a big shortage of good quality affordable rented accommodation in this part of County Durham so working with our development partner Esh Property Services and Durham County Council we are pleased to be making a contribution to addressing this shortfall.
“Chris and Michael are a good example of the sort of people who can benefit from affordable housing like this. They have worked hard all their lives but because of their personal circumstances have not been in a position to buy their own home
“Now they have the security of knowing they have a home for life, which is certainly not always the case when it comes to other forms of renting.”
The DAMHA bungalows all have two bedrooms and are built to a high specification with extra insulation and solar panels making them very energy efficient.