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John Healey MP visits Karbon Homes’ Esh Winning development in County Durham

Shadow housing minister John Healey paid a visit to the residents of a new bungalow development in County Durham where he heard firsthand what they thought of their new homes.

Susan Agar, 72, and her husband Allen, 69, saw their new home as it nears completion and met Healey, as he visited The Heathers, in Hamsteels, Esh Winning, County Durham.

Developed by recently formed North East housing association, Karbon Homes (formerly Derwentside 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.

The scheme received over £1m of grant funding from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).

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.

“This new development looks fantastic and it was a pleasure to meet with Mrs Agar and her husband and hear their story,” said Healey. “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 said to be well insulated and energy efficient. Many include lounges with bi-fold or patio doors providing access to private gardens and all are said to 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.


Photo: Shadow housing minister John Healey (with keys) sees Karbon Homes’ new development in Hamsteels, Esh Winning, with (L-R) Keith Tallentire from Karbon Homes, new residents Susan and Allen Agar, and local MP Pat Glass

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