A £900,000 solar-powered affordable housing development for older people has been officially opened in a County Durham village.
Durham Aged Mineworkers’ Homes Association – in partnership with Durham County Council and the Homes and Communities Agency – has provided nine two-bedroom bungalows at Fines Park Court in Annfield Plain, near Stanley.
Speaking at the official opening of the development, which has been funded by the Homes and Communities Agency and built on the site of an old adult learning centre, residents Jim and Moira Newstead, aged 80 and 71 respectively, expressed their delight at being given one of the homes.
Mr Newstead, a former miner turned teacher who was also at the forefront of research into the miners’ lung disease Pneumoconiosis, said: “Our old home was too big and it was becoming too hard for us to manage, so being able to move into this bungalow has been a godsend.
“It is in a wonderful location and it has meant we have been able to stay in Annfield Plain, which is very important to us.”
Gordon Parkin, DAMHA President, said: “This was certainly not a straightforward development because as well as building bungalows that were in keeping with the area. We also had to ensure a colony of bats that had taken up residence in the old learning centre were safely re-housed.
“However, we have overcome all these obstacles and are delighted to have provided much-needed accommodation like this in the village.”
BBC Look North presenter Jeff Brown, who performed the official opening, said: “We live in difficult times and not many developers are providing social housing of such a high standard, so it is fantastic that Durham Aged Mineworkers’ Homes Association are able to build properties like these.”
Clive Robson, Durham County Council Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “This is a magnificent example of high quality social housing in practice and the feedback from the residents has been very favourable.”
DAMHA received grant funding of £540,000 from the Homes and Communities Agency, the housing and regeneration organisation for England, towards the £900,000 cost of the scheme.
Bill Carr, Area Manager at the HCA, said: “DAMHA is to be congratulated on moving quickly to redevelop a site which might otherwise have become an eyesore and blight on the area. Instead the community can benefit from good quality, eco-friendly homes for older people.”
The project is one of a series of DAMHA housing schemes backed by the HCA, which has also supported developments at Consett, St. Helen Auckland, Brandon and Bowburn.
The homes are all fitted with solar panels on the roofs, which help to heat the water in the properties and are designed to be more energy efficient.