PEOPLE have moved into their new homes on an £8 million “affordable” housing development close to the historic 1825 Darlington to Stockton Railway Line.
Railway Housing Association – in partnership with its contractor Tolent Living – has built 73 homes in the centre of Darlington, County Durham.
This includes the conversion of a listed engine shed built in 1844 which has been transformed into seven new two-storey homes. The whole scheme consists of two- and three-bedroom houses, two-bedroom bungalows and one-bedroom apartments.
New residents include former railwayman Arthur Denham. The 83-year-old used to pay 1p a week from his wages into the North Eastern Cottage Homes and Benefit Fund (the forerunner to the Railway Housing Association Benefit Fund) which was set up after the First World War to help pay for homes for railwaymen and their families.
Denham, who has moved into a bungalow with his partner Jean, said: “I spent most of my working life working on the railways in and around Darlington so it’s fantastic that I am now living in a home which is directly opposite the old Darlington to Stockton Railway Line.
“It’s also nice to know that in a roundabout way, the donations I made when I was working have helped to build lovely homes like this.”
Also settling in are architects Weronika and Hakam Kharsa and their twin girls Jasmine and Sadeel (main picture).
They have moved into one of the two-bedroom homes.
The couple said: “As architects we can see and appreciate the work which has gone into designing these homes and making sure they reflect the railway heritage. We couldn’t be happier with our new home.”
Anne Rowlands, chief executive of Railway Housing Association, said: “This is not only one of the biggest schemes in our recent history, but also one of the most exciting.
“We have taken an overgrown area, complete with a derelict graffiti-ridden engine shed, and transformed it into an amazing 73-home development which caters for young and old alike.
“Given its historical significance we worked closely with Darlington Borough Council and the Friends of the 1825 Darlington to Stockton Railway to ensure the development is sympathetic to the heritage of the area, whilst providing much-needed modern, energy efficiency affordable homes for local people.
“Railway Housing Association is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2019 so it is fitting that this development has happened near a site of historic worldwide importance – the world’s first steam powered passenger railway.”
On a recent visit to the North East, shadow housing minister John Healey visited the scheme and said: “It’s very rare that new bungalows are built even though there is a big demand for them, so it’s nice to see that Railway Housing Association have created this new development with different sections of the community in mind.
“It’s a model development and it’s pleasing we have housing associations like this building not just new homes, but new communities as well.”