About Our Community Plan
In 2012 a Community Plan was produced for Kirklevington and Castle Leavington. Residents of the Parish were widely consulted and the Plan was well received. All residences and business premises in the Parish were given a copy and the Plan was widely circulated to local Parish Councils, Stockton-on-Tees Council, local libraries, the Legal Deposit Libraries and others, Greg Clarke M.P., James Wharton M.P. and the Prime Minister. The Plan was adopted by Kirklevington and Castle Leavington Parish Council.
Since then a Community Plan Committee has continued to address the issues and actions raised by the Plan, one of which is the website you are now visiting. This is an ongoing process through the Parish council and we will provide updates on this page.
If you wish to look at an electronic copy of the Community Plan then please download the plugin and view the copy below, or read each section on the pages of this part of the website. You can receive a paper copy of the plan by contacting the Parish Clerk with your details and we will be happy to deliver it.
Who We Are
WHO WE ARE - OUR DEMOGRAPHIC PROFILE
The population of the Parish stands at 928. The questionnaire revealed that the Parish has about the same percentage of men to women. The largest age group falls within the 40-60 year old band, which is higher than the national average.
The over-65s also form a significant group. This is reflected in the number in full-time employment which represents only 20% of the population of the Parish. A further 6% are self-employed and 11% are in full-time education.
(Views from across the Parish: Grange housing estate; Leven viaduct; Castle Leavington Road from the bridge over the Leven)
The village provides a range of facilities for the Parish catering for different age groups and this is reflected in the levels of support included in the feedback from the questionnaire and illustrated in the chart below. The most popular facilities include the village hall, the pub, the church and the play area.
The village hall was referred to by 60% of respondents and as such proved the most popular village facility. It provides a central venue for a variety of events and activities suiting all age groups and is much valued for this.
Alistair McLee, Chair of the Village Hall committee, commented:
‘The Community Plan serves to confirm the importance of our village hall as a key
facility for residents. Villagers were involved at all stages in the creation of our wholly owned
village hall - its initial conception; funding; construction and on-going maintenance. It is run
by us as a registered charity by a group of local trustees. We are proud of our wide range of
services from christening parties, children’s parties, wedding receptions and anniversaries
and ultimately wakes - in short from cradle to the grave and a lot of other things in between.’
Quotes from the questionnaire on the value of the hall included:
‘Helps community spirit.’
‘Very important to the social life of the village.’
There was significant support for the church (over 40% of respondents valued its community role) and there was recognition of the efforts made to maintain the churchyard.
The Revd Pam Sanders, Vicar of Kirklevington with Picton, and High and Low Worsall, said:
‘The Community Plan has impressed me with its understanding of our local community’s
past, by its concern for the community as it is now and its suggestions of possibilities
for the future. There is real evidence of listening to residents’ views and concerns and trying
to integrate these into a Plan which will ensure the continuation of the community. I am very
pleased to see that the role of the church is valued by so many of those who responded to
the questionnaire and hope that we can continue to work together for the benefit of all.’
Over 50% of respondents valued having a public house in the village. It was felt that The Crown provided an excellent focus for the social life of the community.
There was recognition of the importance of the school (referred to by 30% of respondents) if the village is to continue to attract younger families. Head Teacher, Sandy Jones, welcomed the Plan:
‘I am delighted to see such a comprehensive plan being developed for the Parish of
Kirklevington and Castle Leavington. We as a school feel very much part of this close
community and welcome the opportunity to contribute to the future of the village.’
The play area also attracted support (just under 30% of respondents). There was an appreciation from grandparents of its value when grandchildren come to visit.
(From top left, l-r: Crown Hotel; Church of St Martin and St Hilary; village school; village hall; play area)
‘To ensure the continuity of village life, we need young families to come and live here.’
Actions to be taken
Investigate what further facilities (eg more benches) would be beneficial for elderly residents.
Investigate the scope for providing more equipment in the play area for older children.
Parish communications attracted much interest in the questionnaire and are regarded as an important aspect of community life. There was general support for more information on Parish news and activities which might be provided in both traditional ways and via the internet.
There was significant demand for additional notice boards, which could give up-to-date information on community activities. A suggested position for such a board was on the village hall adjacent to the main door.
It was also felt that a printed newsletter could make a useful contribution to keeping people up to date with Parish news, perhaps by extending the current Parish News to include a newsletter. The wide demand for a printed newsletter may reflect the age profile of the Parish, and may highlight the fact that personal computers are not in universal use. (Comments included: ‘Not everyone is a PC user.’)
(Parish Council notice board; Parish News back-numbers)
But there was, additionally, interest in keeping abreast of news through a Parish website (comments included: ‘better than a newsletter’ but ‘needs to be kept up to date’) and an electronic newsletter. This was tempered by strong criticism of current broadband speed in the village. Comments ranged from ‘far too slow’ to ‘abysmal’.
42% of respondents expressed an interest in having a directory of the services and trades based in the Parish.
Actions to be taken:
Build wider awareness of the current Parish Council website.
Investigate scope for publicising village activities through a newsletter and/or further notice boards.
Investigate feasibility of publishing a local trade/professional directory.
Monitor broadband speeds after BT’s introduction of new fibre optic cable to establish whether further action is needed to achieve acceptable speeds across the Parish.
Of all the issues covered by the questionnaire refuse collection and recycling achieved the highest level of interest at 60%. Most feedback was favourable, though there was support for extending the ‘green bag’ collection at both ends of the season.
Interest in the bus service was expressed by 50% of respondents, with most people asking for a more frequent service. Comments included:
‘Train car park always full. Better bus service needed.’
‘Direct service to Middlesbrough?’
(Village bus service; Yarm Station)
The importance of a Police presence in the village was recognized in 44% of the questionnaires, with a specific demand for more visible policing and for a Neighbourhood Watch Scheme.
‘Foot patrol round village would be useful.’
Gutters and drains were also a concern, with 42% of respondents expressing dissatisfaction with blocked and overflowing drains.
A shop or food service facility of some kind generated support from 35% of respondents.
The need for a library bus was picked up by 20% of returns, mainly from respondents who were not working and available during the day to make use of the service. Comments included:
‘The current excellent services should be maintained.’
Actions to be taken:
Work with Stockton Borough Council to improve parking provision at Yarm Station and to implement surveillance and enforcement measures.
Arrange open meeting in Village Hall with Community Police Officer to discuss Police presence and Neighbourhood Watch Schemes.
Work with Stockton Borough Council and the water authority to ensure remedial work is carried through to completion on drains between Crathorne and Kirklevington to eliminate smells at junction of Forest Lane and Pump Lane.
Assess whether there is sufficient support for the provision of retail food services and how this might be provided.
Over 57% of respondents drew attention to speeding traffic both on Forest Lane in the village and along the A67 as a concern. And around 50% of people expressed an interest in traffic calming measures. This feedback points up concerns in the village with traffic speeds and the need to find ways to limit them.
‘Reduce speed by use of cameras and a zero tolerance policy.’
‘It is dangerous for children to walk or cycle to Conyers.’
(Lorry passing the Crown Hotel on A67; congestion on Forest lane)
Car parking problems - mainly along Forest Lane and on pavements near the Primary School, as well as outside Conyers School - elicited a response rate of over 41%. Comments reflected a general feeling that illegal parking of this nature, particularly at school drop-off and pick-up times, creates a danger to pedestrians and other road users.
‘Parking on pavements causes problems for the elderly and those with wheelchairs and pushchairs.’
Actions to be taken:
Explore the possibility of speed monitoring on Forest Lane and the reduction of the speed limit on the A67 to 40mph from Kirklevington to Kirklevington Grange.
Remind residents that parking on footpaths is dangerous and obstructive for pedestrians, and continue to monitor the situation.
We are fortunate in Kirklevington to be blessed with a rural aspect, which includes an important Wildlife Corridor running through the Parish. There are several riding stables in the Parish and the riders and horses can often be seen along the main village road thus complementing the rural scene. Extensive bulb planting and provision of planters around the village in recent years have helped to make the village a pleasant place to live. As described in more detail in other sections of the Plan residents benefit from a range of educational, social and recreational facilities and have convenient access to shops, national road and rail networks.
(Spring flowers on the A67; summer sunset over the village)
It is perhaps not surprising then that in general the feedback from the questionnaire shows that residents of Kirklevington like living here. Typical comments from the questionnaire returns were that the village is ‘quiet’, ‘sociable’, and ‘a good mixture of age groups’. However, some issues did arise from the questionnaire and the chart below provides a breakdown of these. The subjects that attracted most interest in the questionnaires are featured here. Dog fouling emerged as of most concern to people, followed by maintenance of pavements, trees and hedges, and fly-tipping and litter.
The main road through the village (Forest Lane) was completely resurfaced in 2010 but beyond the railway bridge many potholes remain and were commented on in the questionnaire.
Actions to be taken:
Provide more dog waste bins in the village and promote good practice among dog walkers.
Work with Stockton Borough Council to improve maintenance of roads and pavements, and deal with overhanging trees and hedges.
(Forest Lane in autumn; the church in winter)
The Parish is currently well served with organisations providing facilities for social activities or taking the lead in organising them. Among respondents to the questionnaire, just under 50% were supportive of the role of the village hall in providing a venue for a variety of meetings, events and classes and an ‘essential’ element in the development of community spirit.
Over 35% of people recognised the success over the last three years of the annual Kirkfest weekend events (pictured below) initiated and supported by the Parish Council. A number of people felt that more publicity about events would be helpful in promoting involvement across the community.
(Flower display in the church, Kirkfest 2009; steam locomotion in Ash Grove, Kirkfest 2011; commemorative wreaths, churchyard, 11 November 2011)
There was also recognition from about 30% of people of the value for community spirit of activities sponsored by the Church, the ladies group (‘great addition to the village’) and the village pub (‘hub of the village’).
Ideas for other activities that might be encouraged included adult education classes (eg art, music, languages, dance); a gardening club (‘good idea – would like to know more’); and organised walks. The last of these reflects the popularity of walking in the Parish which was referred to in 30% of the questionnaires.
Within the existing provision for children’s activities there was support from over 15% of respondents for the youth club (now closed down’) and the scouts and guides. There was interest in the possibility of the village acquiring land for a playing field.
Just under 10% of people expressed an interest in a village play group.
Actions to be taken:
Assess level of support for acquisition of land for a playing field.
Investigate support for setting up a playgroup and reinstating the youth club and facilitate next steps.
Sponsor a published guide to local footpaths and rights of way with an explanatory narrative and guidance on the country code.
(Fête in the vicarage garden; maypole dancing in the school field)
Planning for the Future
How things stood (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.
Community Plan Summary
There were many positive comments about the Parish in the questionnaire returns, with a large number mentioning the community spirit, community activities and the general friendliness of the village.
Kirklevington is regarded as a safe place to raise a family, a convenient place to live and many residents quoted the good access to the A19.
The primary school and public house are seen as positives along with the church and village hall. All add to the village ambience.
Residents also feel that the village is the right size and they value the separation from Yarm.
There were some dislikes, mainly to do with environmental issues such as dog fouling and footpaths where car parking and overhanging hedges are seen as problems.
Road safety was a particular issue, especially speeding traffic on the A67 and through the village. The footpath along the A67 was considered dangerous due to the speed of passing traffic and HGVs. Access from Forest Lane onto the A67 was also a concern.
The housing development on the A67 was felt by several people to be very poor. The lack of activities for teenagers was also cited as a negative.
The Management Committee identified a number of actions arising from this feedback and these have been included in the appropriate sections of the Plan.
Where We Go From Here
In each section of the Plan we have endeavoured to identify action points where the questionnaire survey indicated a significant level of interest or concern among respondents.
The Parish Council has generously agreed to adopt the Plan and to use it to inform and guide its future approach to community and planning issues. The Council has also undertaken either to carry out the actions identified in the Plan or to facilitate the setting up of volunteer groups to take forward any future work that is needed. The Parish Council also undertakes to provide residents with periodic updates on progress.
Kate Brown, Chair of the Parish Council, said:
‘It’s great to see everyone working together to produce such a vital plan for our parish. It was also good to see so many residents contribute to the plan via the questionnaires which were circulated. The overwhelming feeling is to maintain our village identity and restrict any further development by retaining the Strategic Gap and Wildlife Corridor. The Parish Council fully endorses the Community Plan and will endeavour to achieve the objectives laid out for the future.’
Some of the issues raised can be tackled immediately. Others will take longer or will involve the monitoring of future developments, for example in relation to planning issues. But our overall aim in producing the Plan is to ensure that our parish continues to offer all its residents a safe and pleasant place in which to live and work.
The Community Plan Management Committee* would like to thank:
The National Lottery’s Big Lottery Fund and Kirklevington Parish Council for their generous financial support towards the preparation and publication of the Plan.
Jeremy Lewis for aggregating and analysing the data from the questionnaires and providing the charts reproduced in the Plan.
The Kirklevington History Group for providing the History of the Parish.
George Cooke, Crathorne Parish Meeting, for advice on preparations for the Plan.
Roger Benson, Hornby, Great & Little Smeaton Parish Plan Steering Group, for advice on the Plan’s content and design.
Janice McColm, Tees Valley Rural Community Council, for help and support throughout.
Richard Wiles and fellow pupils at Kirklevington Primary School for participating in the competition to provide a cover illustration for the Plan.
The Church of St Martin and St Hilary.
And, last but not least, the residents of Kirklevington and Castle Leavington Parish for taking the time and trouble to complete the questionnaire and enabling the Committee to produce this Community Plan.
Thanks also to the following for permission to publish their photographs and other material:
Kate Brown; David and Ros Butler; Richard Jones; Jeremy Lewis; Mike and Cath Page; Mark Stokeld; Steve and Jane Ward. The Crown Hotel for the photograph of the Crown Inn, c1900; Kirklevington Primary School for the photograph from the school website; The Ordnance Survey for permission to reproduce the Crown Copyright map of Kirklevington and Castle Leavington Parish; the Smith family for the photograph of The Grange; Tees Archaeology for the photographs of Castle Leavington earthworks and the Viking stones.
*Community Plan Management Committee
David Butler (Chair), Jennie Beaumont, David Brickles, Kate Brown, Elsi Hampton, Tony Hampton, Jim Parker, Jane Ward, Steve Ward.
Wander with History: Walks in Kirklevington and Castle Leavington
Please read the information on Rights of Way, The Country Code and Key to Symbols, attached to each walk, before attempting any of the walks. All walks start and finish at Kirklevington Memorial/Village Hall at the junction of Forest Lane and Pump Lane, Kirklevington, TS15 9LX.
Individual walks can be downloaded for personal use only.
Every effort has been taken to ensure accuracy but Kirklevington and Castle Leavington Parish Council cannot accept responsibility for any error or omission. All walks undertaken at own risk.
Kirklevington Village Hall (also known as the Memorial Hall)
Download individual walks:
Walk 1 - Around the Village
(Distance - 1.5 Miles. Difficulty - Easy, this walk is suitable for both wheelchairs and pushchairs, the pavement is narrow in parts.)
Walk 2 - Dents Lane - Castleleavington Circular
(Distance - 3.6 miles short route 4 miles long route. Difficulty - Easy, but can be muddy.)
Walk 3 - Saltergill Lane Circular (with variations)
(Distance - 3 miles short route, 3.9 miles long route, Difficulty - Easy, but can be muddy, path may be overgrown with brambles. Trousers recommended)
Walk 4 - Picton Circular
(Distance - 3.8 miles. Difficulty - Moderate, care to be taken when crossing railway.)
Walk 5 - Worsall and Back
(Distance - 4.8 miles short route, 6.6 miles long route. Difficulty - Moderate.)
Walk 6 - The Outskirts of Yarm and Back
(Distance - 5 miles. Difficulty - Moderate / Difficult)
Walk 7 - West Gill and Yarm
(Distance - Approximately 4.5 miles depending on route. Difficulty - Easy, but be aware of dogs, can be muddy.)
Walk 8 - Leven Valley
Distance - Approximately 5 miles depending on route. Difficulty - Strenuous, good agility required, be prepared for river crossing, Wellington Boots or old trainers required. Be prepared to get wet feet. Turn back if water is fast flowing and deep. Only recommended after prolonged dry spell, it can become very muddy.
Walk 9 - Crathorne Circular
(Distance - approximately 7 miles. Difficulty - Moderate, extensive road walking and some muddy parts.)
Download the full book "Wander with History".