A GARDENING competition for estate residents has helped create a brighter image.

The Home Housing Association's Blooming Marvellous initiative was launched to encourage people on Durham's Sherburn Road Estate - now called The Woodlands - to look after their gardens.

It proved so successful that the association decided to hold a garden of the year competition that featured 44 gardens.

The winner was Jim Heslop, of Maple Avenue.

He received £50 in gardening vouchers from the Mayor and Mayoress of Durham, Councillor Ray Gibbon and his wife, Margaret.

Estate manager Carolyn Wood said: "His garden was really bright and colourful colourful and because it is on the front of the estate it is so welcoming.

"We asked residents which garden best represented the estate and they voted for his.''

"The impact of this event has been significant.

"The estate's image has improved and demand for the properties has risen.

Much of the success is down to the residents, who we thank for their continued hard work.''

The once-troubled estate has been transformed in recent years by a facelift costing millions of pounds.