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Residents settle in to £2.8 Million eco-friendly housing scheme

A DISUSED former allotment site in the centre of Consett has been transformed into a new 24-home eco-friendly affordable housing scheme.

Durham Aged Mineworkers’ Homes Association (DAMHA), in partnership with Durham County Council, the Homes and Communities Agency and specialist affordable housing contractor Esh Property Services, has built the two-bedroom bungalows on a disused allotment site at Steel Street, Consett.

The homes have now all been let to people in housing need aged 50 and over, and feature solar panels which capture the sun’s energy to help to heat the water in the homes. As well as the solar panels, the properties all have underground tanks that capture and recycle water so it can be used to flush toilets.

One of the residents enjoying her new surroundings is Norma Savage. The 67-year-old was living in Leadgate but the move has brought her even closer to her family, which includes three children, five grand-children and one great-grandchild.

“I suffer from cancer, osteporasis and diabetes, so the stairs in my old home were getting too much for me and it meant I had started to lose much of my independence,” she explained.

“I have been on a waiting list for a bungalow for some time, but now I am in my new home it has been well worth it – it has very quickly become my little heaven.

“Living in a new bungalow means I have no longer got the stress of walking up and down the stairs and I am hoping it will make a big difference to my health.”

The completion of the scheme brings the total of new homes DAMHA has built in the last 12 months to 50.

DAMHA Chief Executive Paul Mullis said: “There is a big demand for spacious, high quality bungalows of this nature and we are delighted to have been able to help people like Norma.

“Despite operating in tough economic times we have been able to undertake, with the support of our partners, a healthy new house building programme and by doing so met the needs of so many older people across County Durham and the rest of the North East.”

DAMHA received support funding of £1.2m from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), the regeneration agency for England.

Bill Carr, Homes and Communities Agency Area Manager, said:  “I am really pleased that our funding has helped provide new homes for people like Norma. DAMHA have done a great job creating homes were people want to live, on what was previously derelict land.”

Graham Morgan Operations Director for Esh Property Services explained: “This is the third scheme we have completed for DAMHA in the area; ten bungalows at The Grange in Bowburn and ten at St Helen Auckland and we’re delighted to have now provided these additional 24 homes at Consett.

“We hope DAMHA’s residents in Consett will be very pleased with their new homes which will be easy and cost effective to run as they are extremely energy efficient, are highly insulated and use renewable energy.”

All the properties have been allocated to people on Durham County Council’s housing waiting lists and the sale of the Steel Street site to DAMHA has also allowed the council to provide replacement allotments at nearby Blackhill

Councillor Clive Robson, Durham County Council Portfolio Holder for Housing, said: “The acute shortage and the ever increasing demand for elderly persons accommodation within the social sector of housing means that this particular scheme, which also provides key energy efficiency elements too, is proving to be very popular with the local people of Consett and surrounding villages.

“I am delighted that DAMHA and the county council have again recognised the need and importance of best practice and partnership working.

“The additional quota of 24 new affordable homes is warmly welcomed during these very difficult times.”