Residents of a new development of bungalows in Esh Winning have been explaining to shadow housing minister John Healey why their new home means so much to them.
Susan Agar, 72, and her husband Allen, 69, saw their new home as it nears completion and met Mr Healey, as he visited The Heathers, in Hamsteels, Esh Winning, County Durham.
Developed by North East housing association, Karbon Homes, The Heathers comprises 31 modern bungalows for affordable rent, designed for older people. The new properties have been built by Gus Robinson Developments on a site that was formally occupied by Hamsteels Primary School, where Mrs Agar used to work.
Karbon Homes has used its expertise to design and develop the homes, ensuring that they meet the needs of the local residents. The scheme received over £1m of grant funding from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).
Over the next five years, Karbon Homes will deliver around 2,500 new homes across the North East, benefiting from HCA funding through its 2016-21 funding programme. Karbon will be managing one of the largest HCA funding allocations of any housing association in the country.
Karbon Homes – and its subsidiary Prince Bishops Homes – build a range of homes across the region. Any profits generated by Prince Bishops’ commercial developments are re-invested into delivering more affordable homes, including properties like the bungalows at The Heathers.
Mr Healey said: “This new development looks fantastic and it was a pleasure to meet with Mrs Agar and her husband and hear their story.
“I am encouraged by what Karbon Homes and Prince Bishops Homes are doing, helping young, first time buyers to get onto the housing ladder and utilising the income this generates to invest in high quality, much needed homes for an older generation.
“By building homes that people need, want and that are perfectly suited to their requirements, developments like these allow older people to continue living in the communities they know and love for longer and in greater comfort.”
Mrs Agar said: “We have been watching the bungalows being built over the past few months and are really looking forward to moving into our new home and returning to Esh Winning.
“My husband was born here and so were our children, who also attended the school that I worked at for over 10 years as head cook. It will be a bit peculiar living at the same place where I used to prepare meals for the school children but Allen and I are hoping we can enjoy a long and happy retirement in our new bungalow, close to some great memories.”
Moya Jones, representing Karbon Homes, added: “Despite a need for housing designed to enhance the standard of living for older or vulnerable people, fewer brand new bungalows are being built. High market demand for land and tight profit margins can make it unviable for most developers to do so.
“However, by implementing a successful and innovative approach to housing provision across the region, we have been able to buck this trend to deliver affordable, varied and sustainable housing – as well as a range of support options for our tenants.”
All of the bungalows at The Heathers have both a bath and walk in shower and are well insulated and energy efficient. Many include lounges with bi-fold or patio doors providing access to private gardens and all have excellent levels of storage space, essential for those downsizing from a larger property.
The bungalows are also linked – via telephone – to Karbon Homes’ Sure Living emergency out of hours service. This to offers additional support and peace of mind to older persons and those with mobility problems.
The new homes at The Heathers, are available through Durham Key Options. For more information call: 01207 521100.