CHESTER-le-Street’s biggest landlord is starting work on the construction of much-needed new housing in a village.

Cestria Community Housing’s £3.3m development at Nettlesworth will see 18 one-bedroom bungalows, for which there is low demand, replaced by new housing for rent.

The first phase of the scheme, called The Green, consists of eight two-bedroom bungalows and 16 two-bedroom homes on the village’s north east edge. A second phase of 19 two-bedroom homes has won planning permission from Durham County Council.

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Cestria has recently spent £600,000 on the refurbishment of its properties in Nettlesworth.

The new energy-efficient homes have been designed to the Government’s Code for Sustainable Homes level 3, Decent Homes standard and Secured by Design.

They will include features such as rainwater harvesting, improved insulation in walls, windows and the roof, and waste recycling measures.

The new homes will have gardens, sheds, bin storage, clothes drying areas, and parking for residents and visitors.

The Homes and Communities Agency is giving a £378,00 grant for the scheme, which will be built by Galliford Try Partnerships North.

Cestria chief executive Paul Fiddaman said: “This is a very exciting time for Cestria - last year we completed our first new build development at Crossleas in Sacriston and work commenced last month on a new development of 14 two-bedroom homes at Primrose Crescent, in Bournmoor.

"In addition to The Green, we are also building The Elms, a specialist housing scheme for over- 55s in the centre of Chester-le-Street, which will also get underway next week, which demonstrates our commitment of providing 239 new build properties by March 2017.

"We know that there is a real shortage of affordable housing in this area and so are pleased to be able to provide these much-needed, high quality homes for local families.

“We're sure there will be high demand for these properties once they are completed."

Karen Anderson, area manager of the Homes and Communities Agency, said: “The continuing work by our partners is making a real difference to people in County Durham.

“This rural scheme of 24 new homes for rent will ensure that homes remain affordable for local people. Our investment is helping Cestria meet their ambitious plans for new homes in the Chester-le-Street area.”

Phase one is expected to be completed next spring and phase will start after that.