Proposals for the first part of a £70 million five-year plan to build 500 new homes for rent in County Durham are set to go before councillors this month.

Durham County Council’s Cabinet will be asked to give the go ahead to build around 155 homes in seven locations across the county on council-owned land.

Detailed work on this first phase will start on assessing the individual sites and designing the site layout and detailed house plans. Subject to the developments meeting financial viability tests, and planning permissions being granted the homes will be built and residents will become the first tenants in a new era of council housing in Durham.

The new developments will have some family accommodation but there will be a focus on bungalows to rent for older people living in the county. In all of the locations in the first phase there is high demand for bungalows with many older people currently living in unsuitable accommodation.

The five-year programme will see an investment of £70m into the county and Cabinet will be advised that a key consideration will be to ensure that County Durham people and Durham businesses benefit from the construction contracts and associated supply chains. In some places this investment in building new homes will form part of a wider regeneration plan for the area.

The programme also ties in with the council’s Towns and Villages Strategy, which provides a mechanism for accelerating the delivery of regeneration projects including those which are part of its housing strategy.

Phase 1 is made up of sites in the following locations:

  • Brandon
  • Bridgehill
  • Burnhope
  • Ferryhill
  • Murton
  • New Kyo
  • Seaham.

The council has agreed the new build programme to help address the gap between the number of new affordable homes for rent being built compared to the numbers that are required.

People will be able to express their interest in these new homes over the coming months and the council will set up a new service that will make sure tenants enjoy a first class service once they have moved in.

Cllr Kevin Shaw, Durham County Council Cabinet member for strategic housing and assets, said: “We will be asking Cabinet to approve this first phase of building new homes across the seven sites identified.

“The council is starting its building programme by initially committing to 500 new homes over the next five years which will help meet the outstanding needs of our local people and importantly deliver them at affordable rents.

“Access to good quality housing is fundamental to the wellbeing of people of all ages and we especially need to consider our elderly. With these proposals the council is also demonstrating its commitment to building strong and stable local communities.

“This investment by the council could not have come at a more important time. With coronavirus impacting on our communities and the economy in County Durham, the additional £70 million will bring vital extra spend and new jobs and training opportunities into the county.

“I am very excited by the journey the council is setting off on and I look forward to the day, in the not too distant future when someone, on behalf of the council, is able to say to the first of many new council tenants ‘“congratulations, here are the keys to your new council home”’.”

Cabinet is recommended to agree phase 1 of the programme, subject to individual scheme viability, and also agree to receive a further report on phases 2 and 3.

Cabinet is set to meet virtually on Wednesday 10 February at 10am to discuss the proposals.

Members of the public can view the meeting on the council’s YouTube channel which is at