CONSTRUCTION work has started on affordable self -build houses for two families in Witherslack.

A pair of three bedroom, semi-detached eco-homes are emerging from the ground, and the families should be able to move in by Christmas.

Architect Andrew Yeats of EcoArc Architects said the properties “will be some of the most energy efficient houses in Europe.”

The start of construction work marks the end of a ‘long and complex’ 10-year journey for the families, who live in rented accommodation on the estate.

The process began in 2004 when the Parish Plan identified a need for affordable housing.

A Housing Enabler Group was established, which set up a community land trust to deliver a self- build scheme.

The community was emphatic that any housing should be decided by the community alone.

Witherslack Community Land Trust (WCLT) identified a suitable site at Blea Crag, which sits between two sets of houses on unused amenity land.

Full planning permission was granted in December 2012, with no objections from the community.

The Witherslack Estate gifted the land to the trust, which then transferred the freehold for the plots to the self-builders.

The families had total control over the design and build process and John and Elaine Park said they could not wait to move in.

“It’s lovely, I’m down here every day to see how it’s getting on,” said John.

WCLT chair Nick Stanley said: “It has been a long and winding road to get this far. “We know that these issues face most villages in the UK, but it is particularly hard in the National Parks.

“We hope that our work will have some, small influence on Government in all its forms and that they will now accept that many of rural England's problems are solvable by the communities themselves.”