A FORMERLY run-down street has been transformed by a North-East charity aiming to help tackle the issues of long-term empty properties.

After years of neglect, Chapel Street, in Evenwood, had many boarded-up houses and was a fly-tipping and anti-social behaviour hotspot, resulting in a two-bedroom house recently going under the hammer with a guide price of £7,500, seven years after being sold for £65,000.

The Five Lamps charity secured Government funding to refurbish the properties, which are managed by Teesdale Housing Association, part of the North Star Housing group, installing new kitchens, bathrooms and boilers and ensuring that they are well insulated and free of health and safety hazards.

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Contractors appointed by the charity to undertake the refurbishment works were encouraged to provide employment opportunities for unemployed local people.

Walter Knight, one of the new tenants who recently moved into a refurbished property, said: “They’ve done such a lovely job on the house.

“It’s great to see work being carried out on the whole street.

“In so many other places old houses like these would be pulled down, but they’ve got so much character.

“They are all different inside and I can’t wait to see the others when they are finished.”

Sally Thomas, head of community investment at North Star Housing, said: “It’s a win-win situation for landlords and residents alike, and we’re delighted to now be able to welcome the first tenants in to their newly renovated homes.

“The houses in Chapel Street are a set of very attractive terraced homes.

“But it’s about more than bricks and mortar. It means strengthening communities and providing homes for local people in areas like Evenwood and neighbouring Cockfield.”

County councillor for Evenwood, Pauline Charlton, added: “On the face of it, this can be nothing but good and it seems like an excellent scheme which will improve the area greatly.”

Evenwood Parish Council supported the project, which is part of a £1.8m initiative using government funding to bring 75 properties across Teesside and County Durham back into use.