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Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey visited Railway Housing Association’s new £8 million affordable housing scheme in Darlington and referred to it as a “model development”.

Accompanied by Darlington MP Jenny Chapman and Railway Housing Association Chief Executive Anne Rowlands, Mr Healey was given a tour of the 73-home development off Haughton Road during a visit to the North East.

He was invited into the home of Martyn and Joyce Lewis, who recently moved into one of the 12 two-bedroom bungalows that were built.

Mr Lewis told him that they were delighted with their new home.

He said: “If I was asked to give it marks out of ten, it would be off the scale because the home is so good.

“After downsizing from the family home we had lived in for the last 18 years we were initially a little apprehensive but once we moved in we immediately felt at home.”

Mr Healey said it was particularly pleasing to see a development which had a mixture of different homes.

He said: “It’s very rare that new bungalows are built even though there is a big demand for them, so it’s nice to see that Railway Housing Association have created this new development with different sections of the community in mind.

“It’s a model development and it’s pleasing we have housing associations like this building not just new homes, but new communities as well.”

Darlington MP Jenny Chapman said: “It’s a wonderful scheme in the heart of Darlington that has great appeal and I would like to thank Railway Housing Association for creating this fabulous new community.”

Railway Housing Association Chief Executive Anne Rowlands said: “We were pleased to be able to show John and Jenny around our new development.

“It’s one of the largest developments in our recent history and working with our contractor Tolent Living, we are very proud of what we have achieved, particularly given the scheme’s location to the historic Stockton and Darlington railway line and the 1844 engine shed which was sympathetically  converted to reflect its listed building status.

“John visits many new housing schemes across the UK so to hear him describe ours as a model development is fantastic.”

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