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People have begun moving into DAMHA’s new, £2.7 million affordable housing scheme in Houghton-le-Spring – it’s first in the Sunderland area for 24 years.

We have built a total of 19 homes on a site at Abbey Drive, overlooking Sunniside Methodist Church.

All the homes have been let to local people and among the first to pick up their keys were Alan and Gloria Nutt.

They had been eagerly awaiting the completion of the homes after ill health meant getting up and downstairs in their family home in Houghton-le-Spring had become more difficult. Alan, aged 78, is recovering from a stroke and Gloria, aged 74, was suddenly struck down with Guillian-Barre syndrome, which initially paralysed her from the waist down, although thankfully she has now recovered her mobility.

They say having their new two-bedroom bungalow will make life much easier for them.

Gloria says: “Not having to worry about the stairs and having everything on one level will make such difference and we couldn’t be happier.

“When the homes were being built, we picked a particular one out that we thought we would be nice to have, and we couldn’t believe our luck when that was the one we were given.

“It was meant to be.”

Gloria and Alan’s daughter is now living in their former home, so it means they have remained close to their family and friends.

Alan added: “It’s always been a lovely area, so we’re delighted to have been able to stay here.”

This is DAMHA’s 12th affordable housing scheme in the Sunderland City Council region but it’s first in over 25 years.

DAMHA Chief Executive Paul Mullis said: added: “We’re delighted to have been able to return to the Sunderland to build 19 amazing new homes in Houghton-le-Spring, bringing the total number of properties we provide for older people in the area to 185.

“Like most areas, there is a real lack of affordable, high quality two-bedroom bungalows in Houghton-le-Spring, so working in partnership with Sunderland City Council and Homes England, we’re pleased to have been able to deliver this important scheme.

“It provides homes for life for the residents and we will continue to explore opportunities to develop further sustainable and affordable accommodation in the area in the future.”

Homes England, the body which funds affordable housing in England, contributed £608,000 to the cost of the scheme.

Karen Anderson, from Homes England, said: “It’s great to see DAMHA building good quality, accessible homes for our ageing population, and in Gloria and Alan’s case, freeing up a larger, family-sized home at the same time. Homes England is keen to work with partners to build homes where they are needed and that can make such a positive difference to peoples’ lives.”

The layout of the Abbey Drive scheme has been orientated to give residents security, with gable bay windows overlooking footpaths, and a ‘green’ feel with generous landscaping. Each bungalow enjoys its own private garden and dedicated parking bay in addition to areas of common amenity space.

All the bungalows provide two bedrooms with generous kitchen and living spaces but they can also be adapted to meet potentially changing needs, offering the scope for people to remain in their homes for as long as possible, thereby reducing the pressure on health and social care systems.

The architects of the scheme were JDDK, the employers’ agent; Lumsdon Wood Partnership, principal designer; and NB Clark, contractor.