GROUPS are invited to apply for a share of a £150,000 community fund set up by developers of a new supermarket.

Terrace Hill offered the money as a goodwill gesture when it secured planning permission to build a Sainsbury’s store, on the outskirts of Sedgefield.

The fund will be administered by Sedgefield Town Council and is expected to be handed over once the Salters Lane store opens around May.

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The council has decided to keep £10,000 towards developing a new neighbourhood plan.

A further £10,000 will be given to Sedgefield Together Community Partnership for a small grants pot to support projects seeking up to £2,000.

Organisations in Sedgefield and Fishburn are now being invited to apply for grants from the remaining £130,000.

Application and information packs for the main fund are available at the council offices and the deadline for applications is Monday, February 25.

An open meeting will then be held in Sedgefield Parish Hall on Monday, March 4, at 7pm, for councillors to consider which projects to allocate money to.

Groups will be asked to make short presentations about their proposals, which must meet criteria such as sustainability, feasibility and have all relevant permissions, and answer questions on their plans.

Sedgefield town clerk, Lesley Swinbank, said: “It is a one-off opportunity to enable groups to develop their projects which will be of lasting benefit to the local community.”

But the town council has been criticised by Durham County Councillor Peter Brookes, who represents the Trimdon ward, as he feels neighbouring communities should get a greater share of the money.

He said: “I’m really annoyed that the money won’t be shared out more equally with surrounding villages.

“I imagine around a third of customers will be from outside Sedgefield yet only Fishburn is being included.

“I understand Sedgefield should get the lion’s share but this money could have a really positive impact on the surrounding area, like the Trimdons, where there are high levels of deprivation.”

Mrs Swinbank said councillors included Fishburn as it has felt the effect of construction work but felt that if the fund went further afield many other villages could apply and the fund would be spread too thinly to make an impact.