A £9MILLION development of eco-friendly bungalows at a Darlington retirement village has been been praised by the town's mayor, as phase two of the scheme was launched.

Councillor Gerald Lee praised the 'quality and comfort' of the award-winning zero-carbon Waterside 35-home development at Middleton Hall Retirement Village, near Middleton St George.

Cllr Lee was speaking at a reception to mark the launch of phase two of the project, which is surrounded by 17 acres of woodland, with a wetland area and a large duck pond to attract wildlife.

He told guests at the reception that he had been ‘staggered’ when he first saw the development, adding: "The bungalows exude quality and comfort and no expense has been spared on them.

"I’m so proud for Darlington to have the country’s first zero-carbon retirement homes here.

“It’s giving people a very high quality home while making moving and living here as stress free as possible.”

Amy Gibbs, who will move into her new home in the development in the autumn, said: “I made the decision to move here the minute I saw it because I loved the setting and that the bungalows were extremely well built.

“I have a couple of friends here already and I like that it’s really close to Darlington which I go to a lot for my social life.

"It’s like country living but with none of the disadvantages of a rural life.”

Jeremy Walford, managing director of the retirement village, told the audience that three out of four architectural practices they had approached had said building zero carbon retirement bungalows could not be done.

He said: "I’m extremely proud with what we’ve achieved at the Waterside.

“Middleton Hall is about people. It’s about our fabulous staff; our enthusiastic residents and their families and friends. It’s what brings the community of Middleton Hall together.”

All but one of the homes in the first two phases of the development have been sold with buyers attracted by the rural views, spacious rooms and the extremely low energy bills.

Eco features of the bungalows include wood burning stoves, triple glazed windows and high levels of insulation with electricity generated from PV (photovoltaic) panels.

The Waterside has already won two awards this year; a Cleaner British Energy award from the environmental charity Friends of the Earth and a Best of Darlington 2014 Contribution to the Environment Award.