WORK has started on a £3.5 million scheme to transform the site of a former public swimming pool into 24 affordable homes for older people.

Durham Aged Mineworkers’ Homes Association (DAMHA) is building the two-bedroom bungalows at the old Belle Vue Swim Centre on Ashdale Road, Consett, which was demolished in 2016.

The new homes are expected to be completed by January next year.

Paul Mullis, chief executive of DAMHA, said: “We are delighted to have started work on our latest affordable housing scheme in County Durham.

“There is a real shortage of high-quality two-bedroom bungalows for older people in the County, so like our other schemes, this development scheme will help to meet the need for homes of this type.

“2019 and 2020 are going to be busy years for DAMHA as we embark on one of the busiest development programmes in our history, with a scheme in Houghton-le-Spring being completed later this year and another scheme in Philadelphia in the pipeline.

“As well as providing homes for older people, we are also proud to be playing our part in helping to regenerate former coalfield communities in the region.”

The demolition of Belle Vue Swim Centre got underway in April 2016 following the closure of the facility in summer the year before.

Durham County Council earmarked for housing to form part of the funding package required for the new multi-million-pound academy and leisure centre.

The school and sports centre now stand on the former offices of Derwentside District Council and Belle Vue Leisure Centre.

DAMHA is working with Karbon Homes, contractor Surgo Construction and Homes England, which is providing a grant of just over £1 million towards the cost of the scheme.

Lea Smith, from Karbon Homes, said: “We are glad to be working with DAMHA to bring this important scheme forward.

“There is an established need for bungalows in the area, and these high quality homes will help to meet that need.”

Karen Anderson, from Homes England said: “It is great to see DAMHA showing ambition and increasing its development programme, providing homes that meet the needs of communities. We are pleased to be supporting this development.”