MORTGAGE-free homes for people struggling to get onto the housing ladder in the Eden Valley have secured funding.

The bid by Cumbria-based eQuality Homes to deliver a cooperative housing development in Kirkby Stephen has been approved by Homes England.

The funding means the team can move ahead with plans for its pilot project - a collection of individual, modern, energy-efficient dwellings in the historic market town.

In a survey carried out by eQuality Homes last October, 94 per cent of people agreed Kirkby Stephen needed more housing for local people who are unable to buy or rent suitable homes at an affordable price.

The cooperative group aims to make houses more accessible to those who cannot afford to buy a house by building homes that offer low rents, a secure tenancy, and rent-free living in the long-term.

Tom Woof, founding member of the eQuality Homes Cooperative Group, said: "We are thrilled to have secured this vital funding from Homes England and are excited to start work on delivering affordable homes to people in Cumbria, starting with Kirkby Stephen."

The scheme would give residents "a home for life" that they can decorate and personalise more freely than in a private rented property; live in rent-free once their share of the building costs is paid; and even leave to their children.

The aim is to make housing more accessible to those who cannot afford to buy or rent, by offering secure tenancies and monthly rents that are kept to a minimum, said eQuality Homes.

To find out more and to apply for a place on the waiting list, visit