WORK has started on a £7m housing development at the site of the former Eastbourne School.

The scheme is benefitting from more than £1.2m of funding from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) and of the 76 homes being built, 60 will be for rental accommodation.

It has taken just a year for the project to get to the building stage, and Councillor Veronica Copeland, Darlington Borough Council's cabinet member for adult social care and housing, praised all parties involved in achieving a consensus for the site so quickly.

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She added: “This is a really important development for Darlington which will breathe life back into this large site – some 4.4 hectares - which is so close to the town centre.”

Neil Cawson, senior area manager for the HCA, said that offering a choice of buying or renting the homes means that they will be available to everyone.

Developer Esh Property Services is working with nearby schools to involve students in the naming of the new streets, as well as delivering science and business projects.

Graham Morgan, divisional director at Esh, said: “Alongside some very serious work we will do to help the young people develop a sound understanding of how to plan their futures we hope that we will have some fun choosing street names for Eastbourne.”

The other parties involved in the development are the housing agencies Coast and Country Housing and livin.