NEW homes are appearing in one of the North-East's most expensive and sought-after locations.

The banks of the River Wear in Durham, in the shadow of the castle and cathedral World Heritage Site, attract visitors from all over the world.

A des res with views of the area would rank among the most expensive properties in the region.

But the inhabitants of these 25 homes will not pay a penny because they will be rare spotted flycatchers, robins, starlings, tawny owls and the other species of birds that live on the peninsula.

The plywood boxes, which can be strapped to trees or buildings, were created by London architects company De Matos Storey Ryan, based on the ideas and designs of pupils at Wearhead Primary School, in Weardale, County Durham.

The seven to 11-year-olds worked alongside architect Angus Morrogh-Ryan over three months to devise boxes that would complement the area's history and beauty and provide attractive homes for the birds.

The project was run by Creative Partnerships Durham and Sunderland, which aims to team schools with professionals to work on creative schemes.

Mr Morrogh-Ryan said: "I have been astounded by the extent of the pupils' existing knowledge of natural habitats, and their enthusiasm to participate and learn has been an inspiration."

The project complements efforts to improve the riverbanks, and there are hopes the bird boxes could form a nature trail.

Christian Barnes, of Durham City Arts, said: "We have been surprised by the way the children have been such an inspiration to the architect, and the direct impact they have made on his way of thinking."