A North East regeneration company established 20 years ago to create new homes in the Durham coalfields has handed over the keys to its 2,000th property.
Durham Villages Regeneration Company (DVRC) has handed Kate Shotton the keys to the home at The Fell in Chester-le-Street, where DVRC is delivering 78 two-, three- and four-bedroom homes.
The Fell is the 32nd development by DVRC, a partnership comprising Durham County Council and Keepmoat Homes which specialises in building homes and communities in former coalfields villages in County Durham.
To celebrate the milestone, DVRC will present the Shotton family with an annual pass to Beamish Museum, which commemorates Durham’s coalfield history and heritage.
Ian Prescott, land and partnerships director at Keepmoat Homes said: “The DVRC initiative was formed to help revitalise former coal mining villages and communities across Durham. This has been achieved through major investment, creating jobs and training opportunities for local people.
“The homes for sale have been targeted at first time buyers, helping to keep young people in the former coal mining settlements and preventing the loss of economically active people from the areas that were at risk of decline.
“The affordable homes created have helped those in housing need. Now, with 2,000 dwellings and after a £240 million investment, it is clear that the partnership between the council and Keepmoat has had a major impact in this respect across the county.”
Since DVRC’s formation it has built a total of 2,059 homes across County Durham, with just over a quarter of these being for affordable rent.
With an average price of around £110,000, the homes DVRC has built are intentionally suitable for local young people to buy. Over 80% of the homes have been bought by those living within 10 miles of the development, while around 60% of those buying the homes have been first-time buyers.
The award-winning partnership’s £240 million investment over the last 20 years includes around £150 million spent with local businesses. It has also maintained relationships with two local colleges to regularly offer students apprenticeships on site.
The partnership has also invested in its local communities. During its 20-year run DVRC has invested over £25 million into facilities such as Freeman’s Quay swimming pool and leisure centre in Durham, a new bowling green and community centre at Newton Hall, and a string of community initiatives as well as a £100,000 “community chest”.
DVRC’s contribution to County Durham has led it to win a Best Practice in Regeneration Award presented by the British Urban Regeneration Association (BURA).
Cllr Carl Marshall, Durham County Council’s cabinet member for economic regeneration and chair of DVRC, said: “Ensuring people have access to high quality affordable housing is a key priority for the council and it’s fantastic to see DVRC making such a positive contribution towards this aim.
“We want young people to be able to buy homes in the communities where they grew up or close to where they work, and to help first time buyers take that exciting first step onto the property ladder.
“Over the last 20 years, DVRC has helped 2,000 families and individuals to do just that, while also giving back to the community through apprenticeship and training programmes and investing in amenities, leisure facilities and enriching activities. It has also supported the local construction industry and supply chain, boosting the economy and creating and safeguarding jobs.
“I would like to congratulate Kate and her family on the purchase on their new home and wish them the best of luck for the future.”
Image: Kate Shotton, the 2,000th DVRC resident, pictured with Ian Prescott (left) and Ian Worgan (second left), of Keepmoat Homes and Cllr Carl Marshall. Credit: DVRC.