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People have begun moving into their new homes on an £8 million affordable housing development close to the historic 1825 Darlington to Stockton Railway Line.

In its biggest development in recent history, Railway Housing Association – in partnership with its contractor Tolent Living – is building 73-homes at Haughton Road in Darlington, opposite Darlington College.

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.

Arthur, 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 round about 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.

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.”

Allan Thompson, Tolent Living Regional Director, said: “From the outset this was an exciting scheme with a grade 2 listed train shed to convert and a very challenging site in terms of ground conditions and its proximity to the East Coast railway line.

“However the end product is a testament to all the passion and hard work of all those involved in this project. This is a flagship development for us and our client Railway Housing Association and we are proud to have helped deliver this transformational and much needed new affordable housing development.”

Whilst a large number of homes are now occupied, the development as a whole will be fully complete by September 2018

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