PART of a notorious Chester-le-Street estate could be bulldozed to make way for a new private development.

Residents on The Brooms estate, in Ouston, have been in talks with Chester-le-Street District Council since plans for the work were announced in April.

The council plans to demolish between 38 and 122 houses and sell the land to developers to build a more up-market estate.

Residents have been presented with four different options and have been invited to chose the most desirable.

The most likely option will see 38 properties at the north end of the estate, most of them derelict, knocked down. Other options include bulldozing progressively more of the area.

Although residents are worried about the families who will have to be re-housed, they believe a private estate would help increase house prices and clear up the area. Council bosses said the social deprivation and neglect by some of the tenants persuaded them to sell off the worst stock.

In recent years, the Brooms' reputation has taken a battering. In 1995 Maxine Robinson, who lived on the estate, was given a life sentence for murdering her two children.

The following year a police constable was stabbed in the leg, losing seven pints of blood, after a siege on the estate.

Paul Middleton, who has helped form The Brooms Residents Group in response to the council's plans, said: "The north end of the road is notorious for being a dumping ground for troublemakers.

"They don't look after the council houses so we can understand why they might want to redevelop that area.

"Unfortunately, there are six or seven households, including a very elderly lady who has lived there since the estate was built 40 years ago, who will have to be re-housed."

A spokesman for Chester-le-Street District Council said no decision would be made on the preferred option until the public consultation process is finished.

He said: "The feeling among members and officers was the urgent need to tackle the problems on The Brooms. We feel the best way forward was to try and work in partnership with private and social landlords to develop a new estate."