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In at the deep end

In at the deep end

Residents have been thrown in at the deep end at a new £3.5 million affordable housing scheme – but that’s only because their homes have been built on the site of a former public swimming pool.

Durham Aged Mineworkers’ Homes Association (DAMHA) recently completed work on 24 new homes at the old Belle Vue Swim Centre on Ashlands Road, Consett, which was demolished in 2016.

The two-bedroom bungalows have all been let to people aged 55 and over, in line with the Association’s strategy to provide high quality homes for older people in former coalfield communities in County Durham.

DAMHA received a grant of over £1 million from Homes England towards the cost of the £3.5 million scheme, which is one of its largest in recent years.

DAMHA Chief Executive Paul Mullis said: “We’re delighted to have completed work on a development which is providing much-needed affordable homes for older people in Consett.

“There are not enough high-quality, two-bedroom bungalows being built in County Durham and the country as a whole, so we’re pleased to be able to continue to make our contribution to addressing this shortfall.”

The Consett scheme has been completed in the same year that DAMHA also welcomed residents to a 19-home scheme in Houghton-le-Spring and a 13-home development in Philadelphia. All 56 homes are two-bedroom bungalows.

Paul added: “It’s been one of the busiest period of development for DAMHA in our recent history, and we also got work underway on another scheme of 23 homes in Wheatley Hill.

“It demonstrates the active part we are playing in helping to regenerate former coalfield communities in the region.”

During construction at Consett we were surprised to discover the actual swimming pool was still intact, having not been demolished with the rest of the building in 2016, hence why they are in at the deep end.

Paul joked: “We were tempted to keep it so residents could have their own outdoor swimming pool but given the weather in Consett we decided against it!”

Durham County Council closed the Belle Vue Swim Centre in 2015, before it was demolished a year later. The sale of the land to DAMHA helped fund the new multi-million-pound academy and leisure centre in the town.