Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Mount Leven Farm

The planning application for a retirement village to be built in the Tees Heritage Park at Mount Leven Farm in Yarm was rejected today by Stockton Council's planning committee.  It was of interest to people in Eaglescliffe because the application for Yarm School's new sports pitches is also in the Heritage Park, albeit a different part.
The decision to approve or reject the village all hinged on whether the policies protecting the Leven Valley as a green wedge between Yarm and Ingleby Barwick were more important than the pressure from central government to build more housing.  There were other issues of course: the jobs that come with a construction project, the opening up of some currently private land for public access being two.  The jobs would be an undeniable temporary bonus.  The opening up of some private land would be a delight to those fit enough to cope with the steep slopes.  There are some people who say they would love to live in such a village, surrounded by people of their own age and with no problems from young, noisy, energetic people.
At the end of an hour and a half or more of statements from residents, mainly against but a handful for, the development followed by debate among members, the decision was made.  Four councillors voted for approval but fortunately the remaining 8 voted against it and the case was lost.
No doubt the developer will appeal to the secretary of state who will pass it to the Planning Inspectorate to look at.  We can only hope that the decision of the planning committee is upheld.  There might be a desire for such a village in the borough, but the Leven Valley green wedge is not the right place.  Perhaps he'd like to speak to the owners of the Allen's West site and plan the development there?

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Christmas is drawing near now, as we're reminded every time we turn on a TV or go past a shop window.  For the past 4 days there has been the Christmas market in Stockton centre with music to listen to and all manner of goods to buy - everything from a cup of hot soup to an exquisitely crafted cushion or carefully made holly wreath.  As dusk fell the lights gave an almost magical appearance to the chalet stalls.
Icy Polar Bear
Meanwhile, over in the town centre a variety of activities drew crowds for a few minutes or longer - dramatic acts, ice carving, music groups.  And of course on Saturday the traditional market provided the range of goods it always does.  I must admit that at this time of year I feel a sense of nostalgia for the hiss and smell of paraffin lamps on the stalls and the first appearance of exotic fruit like tangerines - how times change.
This afternoon we made our annual Christmas Tree buying excursion, and came away from the local farm with a splendid specimen that's now standing in our back garden until Christmas Eve when it'll be dressed in all its finery ready for the big day.
In Yarm the tree lights were lit, with carols and prayers reminding people that Christmas isn't all about spending money - a timely and necessary reminder.
In Egglescliffe there will be a Christmas Tree with lights outside the Parish Hall, thanks to hard work by members of the Egglescliffe Area Residents Association and the Egglescliffe Parish Hall committee.  Tuesday evening at 6.30pm is the time to be there and join in a few carols round the tree.  The weather forecast isn't too bad so fingers crossed for a good turnout.