WORK is underway to create a major housing development on a historic estate in the region.

The £28.5 million project at the Lambton Estate, near Bournmoor, Chester-le-Street, involves creating 400 homes and 525 jobs.

It includes renovating the Grade II listed Lambton Castle, architect Ignatius Bonomi’s Lamb Bridge and castle stables.

Miller Homes has started work on the first phase of the residential scheme, which includes 106 three, four and five-bedroom homes along with one, two and three-bedroom apartments.

The Earl of Durham, Edward Lambton, said: “In light of the pressures the estate’s traditional revenue streams are under, the future maintenance of the unique legacy that is Lambton Park, is a constant concern.

“The income from this development will not only restore the heritage assets, but will give the family the opportunity to share the wonderful environment at Lambton Park with a significantly larger estate community and members of the public, in the hope that Lambton Park will become a destination of choice for house buyers, businesses and visitors.”

The overall project, including offices, retail and community areas, was granted planning consent by Durham County Council in 2016.

Around 15km of public footpaths in the previously private park will be opened up as part of the scheme.

The first of these, a 45 minute walk adjacent to the River Wear, with views over to Lambton Castle, will be available for prospective buyers to experience by appointment.

After the homes are built, work is set to start on a ‘community hub’ which members of the public can use for leisure activities.

The sales office for Miller Homes will open in late spring, at which point brochures will be available and prices released, followed by the launch of a five-bedroom show home in autumn.

Patrick Arkle, regional managing director at Miller Homes North-East, said: “Lambton Park’s redevelopment should uncover what has been a hidden gem for so many years, whilst preserving its stunning historic features and heritage.

“We are excited to be involved in creating homes within Lambton Park.

“It will not only be an incredibly special place in which to live, but a fantastic place to work and visit.”