AN historic railway engine shed, which was transformed into a £9m affordable housing scheme, has been officially opened.

The scheme, which lies close to the historic 1825 Darlington to Stockton Railway Line, consists of properties being let for affordable rent to local people.

BBC Look North presenter Jeff Brown was the guest of honour at the opening of The Sidings, a 73-home development built by Railway Housing Association just off Haughton Road in Darlington.

The Chair of Railway Housing Association Board, Berni Whitaker, said: “This site is completely un-recognisable from when we first started work, when it was overgrown and had a derelict, graffiti-ridden engine shed.

“This has been transformed into a wonderful affordable housing scheme providing homes for local people, both young and old, with the engine shed at the heart of the development.”

Declaring The Sidings officially open, Jeff said: “It’s fitting that in Railway Housing Association’s centenary year, they have provided these amazing homes which are inextricably linked with its proud history.”

The total cost of the scheme was £9 million, which included grant funding of £1,789,590 from Homes England.

Karen Anderson, from Homes England, said: “The Sidings is a fantastic development, providing a mixture of homes that meet the housing requirements of the local community. It’s a real example of how Homes England supports its partners to help people access better homes in areas where they are most needed.

“Residents have told me how thrilled they are with their new homes and I hope they enjoy living here.”

After the opening, guests went across the road to Darlington College for a buffet lunch made by students on the hospitality and catering courses.

This forms part of an ongoing partnership between Railway Housing Association and the College, with students on the construction and building courses getting hands-on experience during the building of the homes.