Wheelchair accessible homes are first for Bishop Auckland regeneration scheme

A North East housing provider’s first new homes to be completed on a Bishop Auckland development have all been built to be readily adapted for wheelchair users.

The dozen two-bedroom bungalows were officially unveiled by Believe Housing in Howard Close, Bishop Auckland. The homes are first constructed as part of a larger planned regeneration of the wider Woodhouse Close area.

The bungalows have been designed from the outset with features that make them well-suited to the needs of wheelchair users. They include purpose-built wet rooms, level access throughout and wide doorways.

The project is a direct result of high demand for bungalows in the Bishop Auckland area and is part of a £70 million investment in new affordable homes by Believe Housing. More than 700 homes are being constructed up to 2022 as part of the County Durham-based housing association’s current new-build programme.

“These high-spec bungalows have been created to help meet specific demand for wheelchair adaptable bungalows in the Bishop Auckland area,” said Believe Housing’s chief executive, Bill Fullen

“It’s just the kind of development that our new-build programme was created to deliver. We’ve been able to take a compact and complicated site and turn it into quality new bungalows that local people really wanted to see.

“The private sector would be unlikely to even consider such a project, but it’s given us a great opportunity to show how not-for-profit housing associations like believe housing can really deliver for communities.”

Durham-based Esh Group built the bungalows on a brownfield site. Work was carefully undertaken to blend the new bungalows into existing homes on the street and ensure disruption to neighbours was kept at a minimum.

“It’s great to see believe housing and Esh working together on some modern bungalows for the Woodhouse Close area,” said local MP, Helen Goodman, who attended the unveiling. “Social housing makes up 20% of the homes in County Durham, but only 291 new ones have been built in the last eight years. These new bungalows are a welcome addition, they have been beautifully designed and are very well thought out.”

Mark Binns, Construction Director at Esh Living said: “It’s great to have worked alongside Believe Housing on this brilliant scheme which is a fantastic investment for the area.

We believe in the importance of building for all tenures and understand there is a real need for this form of accommodation in Bishop Auckland.

“Throughout the project we have engaged with the local school and community across the area to provide a range of social value initiatives such as STEM science, technology engineering and maths, and Stay Safe safety sessions in partnership with believe housing.”

The Howard Close site is the first to be developed as part of an extensive masterplan that has been created by Believe Housing and Durham County Council for the regeneration of the Woodhouse Close area. Consultation on the project was carried out in 2017 and 2018.

More than 200 new homes are proposed in Woodhouse Close with a mix of property types included, ranging from further affordable bungalows to larger family homes and featuring a variety of tenures.

“We want our tenants to be proud of where they live, and this is just the first part of what we’re expecting to be a much bigger regeneration programme for the whole Woodhouse Close area,” said Judith Common, chair of Believe Housing’s board.

“We’re committed to improving existing homes, as well as building new ones, right across the region. These new bungalows are just the latest example of that commitment in action.”


Photo: (Left to right) Woodhouse Close Councillor, Tanya Tucker; Believe Housing chief executive, Bill Fullen; and Bishop Auckland MP Helen Goodman at the Howard Close development


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