NEW homes being built in a rural community will provide much needed affordable housing.

Work on believe housing’s 20-home scheme on Durham Road, Wolsingham, in Weardale, is now underway by construction partner Imperator Developments.

There will be seven two-bed houses and two bungalows available for affordable rent, through the Durham Key Options letting service.

For people and families struggling to get a foot on the property ladder, 11 three-bed houses will be available under the Rent to Buy scheme which enables customers to pay a lower rate of rent so they can save to buy their home after five years.

Bill Fullen, chief executive of believe housing, said: “We are committed to providing the right homes, in the right places and creating thriving communities where people want to live.

“This development may only be for 20 homes, but we think it will have a hugely positive impact on the area.

“It will give more people who want to live and work in this fantastic rural community the opportunity to rent or buy a high-quality home here.

“The new residents will support local amenities, there will be economic benefits during construction and we’re also contributing financially towards open space, school places, biodiversity and footpath improvements.”

When a Durham County Council planning committee unanimously approved the scheme in January 2022, councillors said there was great demand for affordable housing and the scheme’s design was sympathetic to the area.

Durham Council Councillor John Shuttleworth, who represents Weardale and is Cabinet Member for Rural Communities and Highways, visited the site recently to mark the start of work.

“It is always good to see affordable housing being developed in villages such as Wolsingham," he said. “It’s important that we support people to remain in our rural communities if we want them to continue to be vibrant places. "