How things stand (April 2012)
The local planning authority, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council, has published its Core Strategy Development Plan Document, adopted in March 2010. For the present this is the main document in The Local Development Framework, essentially the planning framework for future development within the Borough. For the Parish of Kirklevington one of the most relevant policies is Policy No 7 (pt 7) which states that there is no site allocation for houses in the rural parts of the Borough.
Within the Parish, Kirklevington village has a defined village boundary (the Village Envelope) and outside of this boundary the Strategic Gap between Yarm and Kirklevington is identified. A separate Green Strategy document also endorses the importance of the Wildlife Corridor which is on the periphery of the village.
However, the new Building Homes for the Future document recently published by the government has led Stockton-on-Tees Council planners to review some of the sites on the edge of existing urban development for potential housing development. Three of those sites are between Yarm and Kirklevington and another is on the west side of Yarm towards Worsall. Consultation has been carried out with all residents on these sites and at the time of compiling this Community Plan Stockton Council planners expect to be issuing their ‘preferred options’ document in June-July 2012. This document will contain the sites that the planners consider merit serious consideration for future development. The sites in and around our area may be included.
Feedback from the questionnaires
Responses indicated strongly that any erosion of the Strategic Gap between Kirklevington and Yarm should be resisted. Extra traffic generated from any further development was also a concern as this would add to traffic congestion in Yarm and on the A67 through Kirklevington. If any of the sites are included in the ‘preferred options’ document, urgent attention will be required by the Parish Council and the community if the Strategic Gap is to remain and the village’s fragile infrastructure and surrounding farm land protected.
(Ancient woodland, Saltergill Lane; Strategic Gap around the village)
The Parish is now the only area within the Borough of Stockton which allows large mammals to pass unhindered from the Tees to the Leven Valley through the Wildlife Corridor, and hence from the Pennines to the North Yorkshire Moors under the busy A19. The circuitous route of Saltergill Beck which passes through ancient forest land and the unstable ground at the valley sides with its close proximity to West Gill and the Leven Valley makes this area a diverse habitat sustaining native wildlife. Kirklevington village has two ponds where great crested newts (a species protected by European legislation) are breeding and is a site of Local Nature Conservation Interest. Bird life to be found in the Parish includes common buzzards, possibly a European goshawk, common quail, two owl species and a good range of farm and woodland species.
There was much interest in the questionnaires in the preservation of the Parish’s ancient woodland, the Wildlife Corridor and local rights of way for walkers.
(Wild flowers across the Parish: early purple orchid; fritillary; cow parsley)
Typical quotes from the questionnaire in relation to the Strategic Gap included:-
'Essential if the village is to survive & not become just another extension of Yarm.’
‘Essential to keep the village as a separate entity.’
On new development respondents to the questionnaire felt strongly that this should be within the village boundary, and be limited to small infill development in keeping with the surrounding buildings.
Typical comments on new development included: ‘Only within village boundary.’
‘Preserve village envelope.’
The general consensus of the survey showed little support for different types of housing, eg ‘affordable’ or homes for the elderly.
Typical quotes included:-
On social housing: ‘ Better near town centres, not in a country village.’ ‘Concerned more housing would make more traffic problems.’ ‘Village is big enough.’
On housing for the elderly: ‘Already exists near Aldi.’
(Wildlife around the Parish: sparrow hawk; orange tip butterfly; whitethroat)
Actions to be taken:
Parish Council to support retention of the Strategic Gap between Kirklevington and Yarm.
Parish Council to object strongly to any erosion of the Strategic Gap and the Wildlife Corridor in any future planning documents from Stockton Council.
Parish Council to consider carefully any ‘infill’ planning applications to ascertain suitability in the context of the surrounding buildings.
Parish Council to oppose any change to the Village Envelope.