Thousands of former council tenants have a new landlord today after the North-East’s largest local authority sold its last 18,400 homes to a new independent group.Durham County Council sealed the £114m deal with the newly formed, not-for-profit County Durham Housing Group (CDHG) late last night (Monday).
Supporters say the historic transfer will pave the way for £800m of investment in the homes over the next 30 years and the £80m construction of 700 new properties within the next seven, plus the cancellation of the council’s remaining housing debt of £130m.
CDHG chief executive Bill Fullen said there was an opportunity to create something “really significant” in County Durham, while council chief executive George Garlick said communities across the county would be regenerated.
CDHG now owns and manages 18,400 homes across the former Wear Valley, Easington and Durham City districts.
It comprises three new landlords, or Community Benefit Societies – Dale and Valley Homes and East Durham Homes, previously Arms-Length Management Organisations (Almos) responsible for managing council-owned houses, and Durham City Homes, previously an in-house council service.
The switch was agreed following a ballot of the 22,000 tenants last year. Just over half voted, with 82 per cent of those supporting the transfer.
It went ahead despite delays and a government deadline having been missed.
Sites for the new homes have been identified, mostly around existing estates, but details have not yet been released.
Mr Fullen said: “The results of last summer’s ballot told us that tenants wanted to see change and that’s exactly as a group what we set out to achieve.
“I want people to say that they are proud to call Durham home and that doesn’t just come from bricks and mortar.
“It’s about improving lives beyond the garden gate and I’m confident that by working with Dale and Valley Homes, Durham City Homes and East Durham Homes we can achieve this together.”
Mr Garlick added: “The completion of the transfer allows for millions of pounds to be invested in current social housing as well as building new homes, helping to regenerate communities across the county.”
For more information, visit countydurhamhousinggroup.co.uk