Laura and Brett are the first residents to move into a new development of 37 affordable homes at Pelton in County Durham, and their baby son Freddie is already feeling right at home.

The £3.5m scheme, developed by Chester-le- Street housing association Cestria Community Housing, part of the Isos Group, includes 16 two-bedroom semi-detached homes and 21 two-bedroom bungalows.

Laura Kennedy, 24, and Brett Russell, 27, had been living in a private rented house in Pelton for some time, but said the costs of the rent, Council Tax and energy bills together were crippling their finances.

Now their new, affordable two bedroom home on Lonnin Gardens means their monthly bills are much more manageable.

Laura said: “Our old house was so expensive. We were really struggling. As soon as we moved in here, we could drop paying those big bills.

“We’ve also got a nice big back garden for when Freddie is older.

“The new house is just two minutes’ walk to the Co-op, and there’s a corner shop and a pub close by too.”

One of Laura and Brett’s new neighbours is Sharon Shreeves, who has moved to Pelton from nearby Sacriston.

She said: “I absolutely love the house. The finish is fantastic, and everybody that has been involved from Cestria has been great. Now my mum is applying for one of the bungalows, so I hope we’ll be together here.”

Work on the Jane Darbyshire and David Kendall (JDDK) Ltd-designed scheme only began in earnest last February but the site has been built out at an impressive pace.

The homes have been completed by housing and community regeneration specialist Keepmoat, working closely with Cestria’s development and regeneration manager Stephen Riding.

Access to the new properties is from The Wynd or Elwin Place and each energy efficient home has been designed to meet the Government’s Code for Sustainable Homes Level 3.

The homes include energy efficient features such as high quality insulation in walls, windows and the roof, recycling waste management measures and energy efficient heating systems.

Stephen Riding, development manager for Cestria, said: “It’s been fantastic to see this site transformed over the last year. We demolished some draughty old bungalows which were in a poor state, and now our contractors Keepmoat have delivered the new, energy efficient homes ready for residents to move in.”

Martin Warhurst, managing director of Cestria Community Housing, said,

“This development is our fifth brand new housing scheme across the district and will help to meet the needs and demands of the area’s population.

“We’re so pleased to welcome Laura and Brett into their new home – and they will soon be joined by more new neighbours.”