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Turners – what next for this prominent site?

You may have noticed that Turners car show room has been closed for some time. Now plans have been presented (to the Town Council on October 9th and to local people on October 18th at an open event in the Manor House) for houses to be built on the site on Salters Lane, where the caravan storage site would also close.

The remaining part of the business, which operates taxis and a vehicle rescue fleet, will relocate to Fishburn, safeguarding all 30 jobs.

Those with a caravan or trailer stored there will be contacted by Turners by letter. There is an alternative facility in Fishburn for 200 caravans which currently has spare capacity for about 180 caravans so it is hoped that sufficient storage will be available in the local area.

The owner of Turners approached Hardwick Properties Limited 18 months ago to develop ideas for the site. The directors of Hardwick Properties, Jeff Pike and Paul Archer, both have local connections; Paul lives in Sedgefield, and they employ a dozen people from the area. They have commissioned Chris Pyle of LOM architects, who is originally from Trimdon Village, to develop the design for the site and the planning consultant also lives in Sedgefield - so all those working on the plans have a good knowledge of Sedgefield.

Obviously Sedgefield has seen a lot of changes over recent years. As recently as the 1970s this was a greenfield site with the only buildings being those of the Isolation Hospital on what is now The Gables. During the 1980s and 1990s the Salters Lane Industrial Estate was developed and The Gables housing was built in the mid 1990s. And of course Winterton and NETPark have followed.

For many local people, Sedgefield has had more than its fair share of housing proposals over recent months and the St Edmunds Manor development is now under construction to the south east of the town centre. These other proposals have however been different in terms of their scale and location, all being proposed on greenfield sites around the edge of the village (apart from the development on the community hospital site which is a long way out of the village but will still have an impact on the village in terms of services and traffic).

This proposal is on a brownfield site within the village boundary. There will be approximately 70 houses, with a focus on 2 and 3 bedrooms. The houses will front on to Salters Lane with front doors and gardens set back from the main public footpath alongside the road. The three existing vehicle access points into the site will be reduced to one. The mature trees between the site and Pine Ridge Crescent will be kept and some form of buffer will be built between the site and the existing industrial estate to minimise the impact of any light or noise from the Industrial Estate.

At the Town Council meeting on October 9th, Councillors asked a number of questions about the proposals, to which the developers responded as follows:

Q. Do we need any more houses?
A. Durham County Council does not have a 5 year housing supply across the County so sites still need to be identified. This is a brownfield site and would be a preferred option to a greenfield site in terms of planning considerations.
Q. Will there be a mix of housing types? We need housing that meets the needs of local people (as noted in the Sedgefield Neighbourhood Plan)
A. The developer is talking to a retirement home company to look at options for accommodation for older people. There is also a requirement for 10% of homes to be ‘affordable’.
Q. The site is currently part of an Industrial Estate and has always been some form of garage. This will be a loss of potential employment land. Where will new jobs be created?
A. All of the current jobs based on the site will be safeguarded. There is commercial land at NETPark. Planners at Durham County Council will need to consider whether there is sufficient alternative commercial/industrial elsewhere and whether an industrial use on this site would be preferable to housing.
Q. Is there an opportunity to design the site to encourage walking and cycling? And possibly provide a link into Hardwick Primary School?
A. The layouts for the site prepared to date have a strong emphasis on pedestrian movement. It is unclear whether Durham County Council would support a direct link from the site into Hardwick Primary School but this is something that will be explored.

The public consultation event was well attended with lots of questions for Jeff Pike and his team. 144 questionnaires were completed and on the day there was 89% support for the scheme.
Three main issues emerged:
1. The benefit of developing the site in terms of improving the appearance of the site and the approach into Sedgefield.
2. The need in Sedgefield for homes to meet requirements of younger and older persons – not just larger, family housing.
3. The need for the development to be accompanied by improved infra-structure - GP Surgeries, schools, etc.
No doubt local people will have other issues to consider. Many will be concerned about the increased pressure on local services, whilst others may see this as an opportunity for their business. Although there is a bus stop right outside the site and many shops and services are in walking distance, there will be concern about increased traffic. The outline planning application will be submitted in a few weeks-time and this will provide a further opportunity for people to comment on the plans.

Article by Sue Dobson.

Steve’s Nature Diary

It’s Wednesday morning, I have a busy day at work; Middlesbrough College in the morning and a school in the afternoon. My phone beeps – a text – Scops Owl at Ryhope, Sunderland. I have never seen a Scops Owl; this the first record for Co. Durham and the first mainland record for over 10 years. I get very twitchy but don’t finish until 6pm - too late to go. Will it be there tomorrow? Thursday is another busy day, but I manage to get away slightly earlier and at 6pm I am amongst a crowd of about 30 people watching a rather cute Scops Owl. It’s only 20cm tall looking rather sleepy perched in an elderberry bush. The Scops Owl visits southern Europe in the summer and then migrates back over the Med to winter in sub-Saharan Africa and must have been blown off course. Twitchers from as far away as Sussex, Kent and Fife, along with bemused locals, managed to see the bird which stayed around for a few days before hopefully continuing its migration. You have to be very lucky to see a Scops Owl in your garden; you are far more likely to see, or even more likely to hear, the larger Tawny Owl. Tawny Owls are about the size of a pigeon, brown in colour with black eyes. During the daylight hours they tend to remain in cover up against a tree trunk and are occasionally pestered by scolding songbirds. During the winter nights the classic hooting calls can be heard along with a 'keewik' call. Tawny Owls are busy now establishing breeding territories. They typically use a cavity in a tree, often quite exposed, but will also take to a specially designed Tawny Owl box. They take a wide range of prey from earthworms (taken on wet nights from your lawn) through to small mice and rats, Starlings and even Grey Squirrels. So although you cannot attract them by providing food in the normal sense, you can try and attract them by providing a suitable nest box. You can download a design from the British Trust for Ornithology website Another owl seen in the countryside around Sedgefield is the Barn Owl. It also readily takes to nest boxes if it is located in the correct habitat. As part of the River Tees Rediscovered “Wings of the Tees” project, Tees Valley Wildlife Trust is working with volunteers who have erected a number of boxes around the Tees Valley. A total of 5 boxes were successful and 20 chicks were ringed as part of the project (quite a success). Again instructions on how to make and where to erect a Barn Owl nest box can be found on the BTO website. More information about the River Tees Rediscovered project can be found on their new website

Unlikely “brothers” at Durham Cathedral

Heads turned in Durham Cathedral this week as three Benedictine monks - two of them clearly members of the fairer sex - appeared among the eye-catching artefacts in the Open Treasure exhibition. The masquerading monks, seen right, were actually members of the Friends of St Edmund’s Church, there to explore the story of the ancient building and the people, history and Christian message at the heart of the cathedral’s life and worship.

In the former monks’ dormitory, Christine & Brian Mutch and Alison Hodgson tried the style of dress worn by the Benedictines centuries ago. After lunch in the Prior’s Hall the group enjoyed a guided tour of the cathedral and visited the Open Treasure exhibition

News from St. Edmund’s

A jolly-looking Saint Edmund has made an appearance in Sedgefield’s ancient church. In his mitre, robe and cape he features in a newly-commissioned, explorer trail booklet for young visitors.

He suggests how youngsters can find their way around the building and explains words used to describe key parts of the church. There are several entertaining tasks for visitors to tackle, inside the church in and the churchyard, including the chance to design a stained glass window, complete a wordsearch puzzle and test their perception skills in ‘spot the difference’ pictures The colourful trail guide is the work of Fishburn artist-designer Kevan Stevens, owner of the Art Room North East Ltd, who recently designed a new church guide and interpretation panels for St Edmund’s.

His freehand drawings of Saint Edmund, who is depicted with his crosier and Bible, are the result of painstaking research. The booklet has already been highly praised by those who have seen it. Church visitor Natasha Graydon and her eight-year-old son, Isaac called the guide eye-catching, educational and fun.

Kevan Stevens also designed the newly launched It’s purpose is to keep supporters of the Friends of St Edmund’s Church up-todate with their efforts to help preserve the centuries-old building. Send info for possible inclusion on the website to The Friends make regular visits to local places of interest, the next being the annual Christmas shopping trip to York on 7th December. Full details will follow shortly.

Sedgefield Twinning Association gets athletic!

Following a fantastic visit by 12 Sedgefield Harriers to Hamminkeln in August for its annual city run (the Citylauf) a group of fourteen Hamminkelners visited Sedgefield from 15-18 September. The party comprised Hamminkeln SV (sports club) members and organisers of the August Citylauf; all were keen to see their twin town and to participate in Sedgefield’s Serpentine Race at Hardwick Park. The weekend started with a tour of Sedgefield on Friday, hosted by Gary Hetherington and Phil Houghton. This included a guided tour of St Edmunds Church, hosted by Brian Mutch; dinner at the Dun Cow; and finally drinks and chat at Ceddesfeld Hall.

Next morning was Sedgefield’s weekly Parkrun. Following a special briefing in German by the event’s director, Chris Hearmon, five Hamminkeln runners (Helmut, Alfons, Werner, Thomas and Norbert) joined the assembled athletes and were cheered on enthusiastically by the rest of the group. In the afternoon, guests and hosts visited Durham for a cathedral visit, a riverside walk, plenty of cake and, of course, a bit of souvenir shopping.

The evening was spent at a party in Durham House (the old Nag’s Head) in Sedgefield. Here the German gang and some Sedgefield Harriers enjoyed an evening of eating, drinking, chatting (in English, German and sometimes in an interesting mix of both) and some (competitive) games of pool! On a sunny Sunday the party attended the Sedgefield Serpentine race, a 10k trail through Hardwick Park to Bishop Middleham and back. Of the five German runners, Werner Kamps was the first Hamminkelner home in 13th position overall. He received a bottle of wine for his fine achievement!

Sunday afternoon brought fog as we ventured out to climb Roseberry Topping. At the last moment, the thick mist lifted to reveal the local landmark. That evening a lovely dinner was had in ‘Le Raaj’ restaurant, after which everyone retired to the bar at Ceddesfeld Hall for one final drink together. All in all, it was a fantastic weekend with plenty of sunshine in between the showers. We have made some great new German friends and we now look forward to building on these new relationships to strengthen the bond between our two towns.

Alda Hummelinck

What next for Twinning?

This month saw the 35th anniversary of the establishment of The Sedgefield and Hamminkeln Twinning Association in October, 1982. The links between the towns continue and this year we have seen the visit of a group from Germany in June and reciprocal visits to athletics events in each other’s towns. We have now been invited back to visit Hamminkeln from May 30th to June 3rd 2018. Happily (and unusually!) these dates fall in the schools’ half term holiday, so we hope that more new people, families and individuals, will be able to travel with us and help us continue this link which has resulted in so many deep friendships over the years.

Anyone interested in finding out about The Twinning Association, perhaps with a view to taking part in the future, might like to attend our social evening on November 11th.

Judith Edgoose