A RESIDENT fears she is stuck in a "living hell" because her housing estate has deteriorated to such a level that no estate agent will sell her home.

Chris Grimwood, a mother of three, liked the Whitehill Estate, in Pelton Fell, near Chester-le-Street, so much that, with her husband, she bought her council home on Ruskin Avenue 12 years ago, after living there as a tenant.

But she said that over the years, she had seen the estate around Whitehill Crescent deteriorate to such an extent that she will no longer let her children, aged 11, eight and three, out to play.

About two-thirds of the homes are derelict and regularly targeted by vandals and arsonists.

Over Christmas, two homes not far from Mrs Grimwood's property were set on fire and she said she now sits in her home at night in fear, wondering if her home will be next.

She said: "It was a really nice area, but the area started deteriorating and as people moved out the council didn't fill the houses, so it went to wrack and ruin and now people won't move into the homes."

Mrs Grimwood said the estate had become so run-down that estate agents had told them there was no point putting their home on the market.

"My husband would take any amount of money now to get out of here because he's had enough," said Mrs Grimwood. "There's no fight left in any of us any more."

Chester-le-Street District Council has earmarked the area for regeneration, which will be discussed at a council meeting today and has been discussing the how to improve the area with tenants.

The council's housing department is currently undergoing upheaval as it faces the prospect of potentially being the first in the country to be taken over by the Government for failing to meet standards.