L-R: Wayne Harris from contractor T Manners & Sons; board chair Judith Common; County Durham Housing Group's chief executive Bill Fullen at the completed bungalows in Rookhope.
Rebecca Wayman

Rural Bishop Auckland area receives new social housing with £30m project

For the first time in 50 years, new social housing in the remote Rookhope village has been completed.

This is part of a £30m County Durham project bringing affordable homes to the area, which includes a pair of two-bed bungalows handed over to County Durham Housing Group.

The new homes are the first new social housing of any kind in the upper-Weardale area, which has had a small population of less than 300 people since the post-war era.

County Durham Housing Group’s chief executive, Bill Fullen, said: “We hear lots of talk about the housing crisis in big cities, but affordable housing is just as much of an issue in a small rural village like Rookhope.

“These bungalows might seem like a drop in the ocean to some. But to the families who will be able to live in this village, they will mean everything.

“I can’t imagine the circumstances where a private investor would be able to deliver a project like this, which the community wanted and knew that there was demand for. But, this is exactly the type of project where County Durham Housing Group can come into its own.”

The bungalows, on Boltsburn Crescent, are also the first of 300 new purpose-built affordable homes by the group being constructed on 17 sites between now and 2020.

The bungalows feature high levels of insulation, the latest heating systems powered by solar panels, and double glazing.

They are expected to bring savings to tenants when compared with older homes in the village. Demand for modern bungalows in Rookhope is high as most properties date back to the area’s lead and ironstone mining days - over 100 years ago.

County Durham Housing Group is one of the region’s largest providers of affordable housing.

Alongside the new properties in Rookhope, the group’s £30m new-build programme is creating new homes in communities like Crook and Seaham.

The programme is expected to create around 100 new jobs and apprenticeships, too.

Simon Manners, joint MD at T Manners & Sons Ltd and the fifth generation of his family to run the 157-year-old business, added: “It has been a real pleasure to work with County Durham Housing Group and deliver affordable homes in Rookhope.

“Our craftspeople are all locals to the county and so it feels special to be involved in this much needed project. We are pleased to be continuing our relationship with the group, building more bungalows at West Auckland and hope to do more in the future.”

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