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New Homes Powered By Solar Energy

PEOPLE living in a new £1.25 million affordable housing development in County Durham are having their homes powered by solar energy.

Residents recently moved into ten new bungalows in a development by Durham Aged Mineworkers’ Homes Association (DAMHA) at Ascot Way, St Helen Auckland, near Bishop Auckland.

The two-bedroom properties, built on behalf of DAMHA by North East social housing building specialists Dunelm Property Services, have photovoltaic solar panels on the roof that generate electrical power. This method of renewable energy is the fastest growing power generation technology in the world and the first time DAMHA has used it in its properties.

As well as providing power for the homes, any surplus electricity generated is fed back in to the National Grid.

Among the first people to move into their new homes are Martin and Olive Luck, aged 64 and 65 respectively. It is a kind of homecoming for Olive, who lived on almost the same spot when she was growing up.

Mr Luck, a retired fire-fighter, said: “The house we have been given is lovely and we never dreamed of living in a home that has been designed to help the environment by generating electricity from the sun.

“We moved from our home because the stairs were getting too much for us and we jumped at the opportunity of moving to such a well-laid out bungalow, which is much more suited to our needs.

“It is also extra special for Olive because she remembers growing up here when she was a child, and now she has returned, she has literally come full circle.”

Gordon Gray, Chief Executive of DAMHA, said: “We are delighted that couples like Mr and Mrs Luck are settling into their new homes and that they are able to benefit from living in a house that is so environmentally friendly.

“We strive continuously to design new affordable homes that are energy efficient and sustainable. We have built other properties that use solar panels to help heat boilers in our residents’ homes but this is the first, and it won’t be the last, development where the panels actually help to generate electricity.”

The DAMHA homes are part of a larger development created by Dunelm Property Services at St Helen Auckland.

Stephen Francis, Managing Director of Dunelm Property Services explained:  “We created an opportunity for affordable homes on this site early in 2010 and we are delighted that DAMHA has been able to take up that opportunity.  The homes themselves incorporate an extensive range of renewable and energy saving technologies and are rated to Code 4.”

The Homes and Communities Agency, the housing and regeneration agency for England, has contributed £600,000 in funding for the homes.

“With a range of green and energy-saving features, these homes are well designed, warm and less expensive to run,” said Bill Carr, area manager at the HCA. “Our role is all about helping to make things happen in local communities, and this is another great example of that local approach in action.”

The homes were designed by Christopher Brummitt Architects, who are based in Ponteland, Newcastle upon Tyne.