THE first homes refurbished as part of a multi-million-pound regeneration scheme have been unveiled.
Accent Foundation is ploughing £15m into improving homes in Horden, Blackhall and Easington over the next three years.
As part of the scheme, the first bungalow in Northumberland Street, Horden, is now complete, with a happy resident moving into the property.
Community chiefs say the scheme will hopefully change the face of the three villages and bring the 1900s-built homes up to 21st Century standards.
Accent’s Community organiser Michael Fishwick said contractors Bullock and R Bland were appointed in November and they have started on the first phase, 80 Horden bungalows.
Residents will be rehomed in “decamp” bungalows for up to 12 weeks while their homes are revamped.
The homes will be given new kitchens, bathrooms, windows and doors and some are being given large kitchen extensions, wet rooms and improved disabled access.
Work is due to start in Easington Colliery from April.
Mr Fishwick said: “It’s going very well. “We have good feedback from the residents and we are trying to tie it in, particularly in the numbered streets, with investment in properties as well as community regeneration by having events like our recent jobs fair and making the community more sustainable.
“This really is going to improve the area - it is an investment in the area as well as in the properties.
“It should increase the value of other properties in the area as well. “We hope it will make a real difference.”
Horden parish councillor Billy Hill, 66, was asked to officially unveil the first bungalow.
He is also benefiting from the improvements and is due to move out of his bungalow while work is carried out.
He said: “It’s nice that a company has come into Horden with so much money to improve housing.
“These houses were built when the mine was first sunk in Horden.
“Obviously they are not getting any younger - we live in one and we find that when it’s really cold outside, the heating doesn’t really compensate.
“When I walked into the pilot bungalow, my glasses steamed up - it was lovely and warm.”
He praised Accent and said the company had actively involved tenants, asking them what they want, from the number of plug sockets to the colour of the walls.
“They are event fitting carpets for when we move back in and are going to decorate the whole of the property with professional decorators,” added Coun Hill.
“It’s changing Horden for the better.
“People are paying rent so why can’t they have nice homes?
“When they get that, people will look after them more and a little bit of pride will return back to Horden.”
Residents are invited to a consultation event this Friday from 2pm-3pm at Horden Library, in Sunderland Road, where they can discuss the scheme and any other housing issues.