COUNCIL houses are to be sold off cheap in an effort to regenerate run-down areas.

Durham County Council’s cabinet today (Wednesday, March 19) agreed to sell six homes in Leeholme, Coundon, at up to 35 per cent below market rate, while livin, former Sedgefield Borough Homes, will sell eight of its houses in Dean Bank, Ferryhill, with discounts of up to 30 per cent.

The home buyers will also be offered interest-free loans for repairs.

But the initiative is aimed at bringing empty homes back into use, so buyers must agree to live in them for at least five years.

Council chiefs say if the pilot scheme is successful, it could be extended to other struggling areas, such as Easington Colliery, Chilton West, Craghead and South Moor.

Ian Thompson, the council’s corporate director for regeneration and economic development, said it was a relatively small start and the authority would look at its success and decide whether it was worth rolling out to other areas.

The scheme is known as homesteading. In Stoke-on-Trent, homes were sold for £1 each. In Durham, houses could sell for as little as £16,250.