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Sedgefield Village Action Group - Important Information for Residents

SVAG recently attended the Public Inquiry for the development of 100 houses on the former Sedgefield Hospital site. This appeal follows the refusal to grant planning permission by DCC Councillors at the initial hearing. This is a brown field site development which was supported by Sedgefield Town Council and many residents and it is within the Built up Area Boundary agreed in the making of Sedgefield’s Neighbourhood Plan, which has now been submitted by Sedgefield Town Council to DCC. The appellants have put their case and the Inspector’s decision will be known by mid July. Following a refusal by DCC, an appeal by Avant Homes for 150 houses on A689/Stockton Road is due to be heard at a Public Inquiry commencing on June 27th at Sedgefield Racecourse. Proceedings are due to last 4 or 5 days. SVAG will be making presentations against this development under Rule 6. DCC will also speak against this develop-ment, as will Sedgefield Town Council. In the absence of a DCC Development Plan and because Sedgefield’s Neighbourhood Plan is still emerging, legal arguments are being made using the policies from the 1996 Borough Plan. Sedgefield is extremely unprotected and remains very vulnerable to large scale housing development. It’s happening right now and there doesn’t seem to be much that can be done to stop it. As you’ll all be aware, work has started on 277 houses at Eden Drive. This development was granted permission by an inspector despite it being on the only designated (supposedly protected) ‘green wedge’ land the town has. So, within a couple of months, if the inspectors of these appeals decide in favour of the appellants, permission could be given for a further 250 houses in addition to the 277 houses at Eden Drive; a total of 527 houses for Sedgefield. It could also be the case that a further appeal on another refused application (the development behind Sainsbury’s around to The Orchard) could be submitted, which would add another 300 plus houses, totalling over 820 houses. If residents want to make their voice heard, it is imperative that they attend The Public Inquiry held at Sedgefield Racecourse beginning on June 27th. Contact the SVAG representative on 07523 457584 or email

There’s still time to enter!

Sedgefield Agricultural Show is still growing in its 164th Year. The Sedgefield and District Agricultural Show on Saturday 12th August has already attracted a large amount of interest and support and the Show Committee anticipates a record number of entries and attendees in 2017. Gates open at 10am and car parking is free. Marquees open at 12 noon and attendees can enjoy a variety of activities including a full range of competitions and displays. Anyone interested in entering should visit to see classes on offer. Or you can call 01740 621841 for a copy of this year’s schedule. Many of the classes for children are free to enter. There really is something for everyone. Ian Mason, Show Chairman, is excited for this year’s event and hopes to increase attendees further after last year's record number. He thanks everyone involved for their kind support and commitment.


Steve's Nature Diary
Steve's Nature Diary

You never know what might turn up either in your garden or walking around one of the wildlife rich nature reserves we have in the North East. A friend and birder who was walking around Tees Valley Wildlife Trust nature reserve, Bowesfield in Stockton heard, coming from one of the reed beds, what he initially thought was either a Reed Warbler or a Sedge Warbler - both small brownish/green birds that can be found on the reserve. The sound was coming from a bird hidden in the reeds, it then changed and sounded like a blue tit, then great tit then went into a chorus which sounded like a nightingale and finished off with the mew of buzzard. It was in fact a Marsh Warbler - a very rare summer visitor to the UK with approximately 5 pairs breeding in a small part of SE England, otherwise they are widespread across middle Europe. Since the discovery, lots of people have been to hear the sounds of this birds amazing act of mimicry. Even closer to home – a member of the public posted a picture on twitter @clevelandbirds asking what was this strange pink and black bird they had in their garden feeding in the cherry tree. It was quickly identified as a Rose-coloured Starling – it looks a bit like a starling which has been dipped in pink paint. This visitor probably from Eastern Europe had turned up in a suburban garden in Billingham. At the time of writing the bird was still there and the owners of the garden were very accommodating to the tens of people who have been to see it. Ironically, a Rose-coloured Starling was also discovered in 1973 (by the same person who found the Marsh Warbler.) I could mention a number of examples of birds found by members of public that turned out to be real rarities, and with the onset of social media it is far easier to get these identified and shared with the people who are anxious to see them. So if you check out the Wildlife Trusts website and put in your post code, you can find your nearest nature reserve. If you do see something interesting in your garden share it on twitter with @teeswildlife or @durhamwildlife you never know, it might be real rarity – and even if not, we still like to see your pictures of wildlife in your garden.

Miners remembered

Fifty years after the closure of the Deaf Hill Colliery, the men who lost their lives underground or died from the dust they inhaled during their days at the coalface, have been remembered in a special prayer of hope. Families still battling the effects of pit closures were also remembered at a Knottingley Silver Band concert held in Trimdon Colliery and Deaf Hill Working Men’s Club to mark the 50th anniversary of the day the pit wheels finally stopped turning. Local church member, Panny Pighills scripted the prayer as a tribute to the men who ‘kept our homes warm, our bellies full, and the wheels of industry turning’ and those still living with the effects of coal mining. Her prayer also offered up hope for ‘new beginnings and fulfilling jobs for those seeking permanent employment’. As part of the 2017 ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ global prayer movement, launched last year by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and now an international and ecumenical call to prayer, Panny also visited the Friday morning ‘Grumpy Old Men (and Women’s) Club’ at St Catherine’s Church Café in Fishburn. The prayers were appreciated at both venues. Panny was one of a team from the Upper Skerne parish who produced prayers for events in the week leading up to Pentecost.

The Dashing Vicar

Sedgefield Day on June 10 saw the official opening at Ceddesfeld Hall of a major Sedgefield in Bloom project, the Stepping Through Time Garden. Volunteer Bloomers, with help from local contractors, artists and generous donors, have transformed a large overgrown area into a stunning woodland garden. Pride of place goes to the Dashing Vicar, a life size willow statue, created by Victoria Conner of Blakeston Hall near Thorpe Thewles. Before an appreciative crowd, Michael King, lay preacher at St Edmund’s, declared the garden open, presenting the Dashing Vicar with a carved oak bible made by local man Garry Jacobs. The wall of the former rectory bears a wooden gate, leading to the side entrance of St Edmund’s church, so the vicar could dash to worship without getting wet or bumping into parishioners. Hence the name. Living willow tunnels linked by a winding path have already proved a big hit with children, who also love hunting for willow creatures in the trees. Northumbria in Bloom judges are sure to be impressed on their summer visit to Sedgefield on Wednesday July 19th. The gardens in Ceddesfeld Hall grounds are open to the public at all times and will feature in Sedgefield in Bloom Open Gardens Day on Sunday July 9. See diary page for details. Pictured L - R : Artist, Victoria Conner, Garry Jacobs & Michael King.

NETPark Development Update

Development is underway at NETPark for the new access route from the A177, and new buildings are in construction as part of the Explorer buildings phase. The new development, on green field sites alongside the original project, is set to be completed before Christmas, with the £5m road providing opportunity over the next 10-15 years for further building and more businesses on 13 hectares of land in the science park. The new £7.4m Explorer development will create space for research and development companies, enabling them to prototype and manufacture on site. Ibex Innovations are planned to be the first tenants into the development, and other enquiries are being received. Peter McDowell, Business Property Director at Business Durham, said, “The work for the new access route is going well, especially with recent good weather. “The Sedgefield Development Trust are also helping to create a new wildlife corridor at NETpark to try to make up for the loss of countryside from the development.” NETPark, which currently employs 400 people, was officially opened in 2004,transforming the old Winterton Hospital site into the science park it is today. The current expansion into surrounding green field sites is made possible with funding from the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, as part of the Government’s Local Growth Fund. Further developments are planned along the new access route. Planning applications for these developments and will be available on the Durham County Council website when they are announced.

By Kelly Aitkin.

Getting the news to you

One of our trusty deliverers is giving up after many years of service, so we are looking for someone new to take on the delivery of Sedgefield News to Lilac Avenue, Maple Road, Beech Oval and Hawthorn Road (that’s 90 copies in total). The lady who has been doing it up to now has given us detailed instructions of the most efficient route, so it shouldn't be too much of a challenge! If you would like to help, please call Judith Edgoose on 07899 984 464 or email