A housing scheme that will deliver 78 new family homes, as well as provide funding for highways and school improvements, has been approved by a planning committee.

The scheme will see the Durham Villages Regeneration Company, which is a partnership comprising Durham County Council and property developer Keepmoat, construct the new homes on a 7.4 acre plot of land in Chester-le-Street between the Hermitage Academy and Gibside.

Of the 78 new homes, four will be sold at a 30 per cent discount to eligible buyers, and eight will provide an affordable renting opportunity through registered housing provider Karbon Homes.

The project will also contribute half a million pounds to improvements in the local community, including improving capacity at the Hermitage Academy secondary school, providing funding for open space play areas and enhancing the local ecology.

On top of this, the partnership scheme will also fund highway improvements at the Pelton Fell Road/Whitehill Way junction.

Cllr Carl Marshall, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economic regeneration and chair of the Durham Villages Regeneration Company, said: “The development in Chester-le-Street demonstrates our commitment to providing a range of housing schemes and regenerating local communities.

“It will not only deliver much needed homes for families and first time buyers in Chester-le-Street, but it will also bring new opportunities to the area through employment, training schemes and a range of local improvements.  

“This is all part of our aim to not only build new homes but to transform neighbourhoods and invest in and support the communities in which we work.”

Since formation in 2001 the Durham Villages Regeneration Company has invested more than £150 million and created over 1,300 homes – around a quarter of which are for shared ownership or affordable rent.  

The unique profit sharing agreement also provides funds in support of Durham County Council’s initiatives and services.