PLANS for a new athletics facility in County Durham have been been met with opposition from residents.

If accepted, an athletics track will be built on land to the north of NETPark, at Sedgefield.

The application was prepared by Lichfields on behalf of the East Durham Community Athletics Track (EDCAT) steering group in association with the Friends of Sedgefield Harriers (FOSH).

The project has attracted support from the likes of Steve Cram, Paula Radcliffe, Daley Thompson, Haile Gebrselassie, Sir Mo Farah, Sir Steve Redgrave, Roger Black, Jonathan Edwards, Allison Curbishley, Chris Tomlinson and Team GB middle distance star Laura Weightman.

Several people have commented on the application via the county council website objecting to the plans.

Ean Parsons, chair of the EDCAT Steering Group, said: “We are pleased that the East Durham Community Athletics Track plans are now online and we welcome feedback. We have reviewed the concerns that have been raised and they have all been addressed in our detailed application. However, the EDCAT Steering Group is always open for dialogue and discussion as the planning process proceeds, both through officers at the county council and with the local community.” 

Here's what Sedgefield residents had to say

Olivia Lees, of Burdon Place said: "As a resident of Hardwick Grange, the housing development in which the running track is proposed to look directly over, I am hugely distressed that this application is being considered specifically to cater to a small-scale running club and prioritise this over a substantial amount of wildlife which reside on the proposed land. The landscape is home to a huge nature conservation including owls an bats plus an array of protected species. To dig this up with complete disregard for these animals is completely inhumane. How can this be justified and what will happen to these animals? Sedgefield is know for its rural heritage and rolling hills, destroying a large landscape which is full of wildlife to build an unnecessary running track would hugely impact and change the character of the area."

Sean Barton, of Burdon Place said: “Since moving here over one year ago I have enjoyed many walks in and around this area of land and have seen a number of protected species in this vicinity including; owls, hedgehogs, pheasants, bats and many different types of species of bird. I have also seen what could be existing or old badger dens on this land.

“I would like to draw your attention to some legislation, as I believe many of these species are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. I would also like you to consider other legislation before destroying the homes of our local wildlife.

Alex Lees, of Burdon Place said: “The demand for said track is very small indeed there’s several tracks all within 30 minutes drive from Sedgefield that are easily accessible. Secondly, the field is alive with an abundance of different wildlife. The town also has an ongoing issues with young people causing damage and if we have a track it will most certainly be a beacon to attract more trouble makers.”

Damien Scott said: "I would urge Durham County Council and the powers that be to take into consideration the negligible impact this will have on the local economy due to the remote location and little amenities available or visitors, the increase in risk of road traffic accidents due to a busy road and poor ingress/egress and impact that floodlit areas after dark will have on residents, all of whom contribute to the paying of our public services.”

Charlotte Allen, of Hardwick Grange said: “I have numerous concerns which listed: Harmful to wildlife that reside there; noise pollution; light pollution; increased traffic; antisocial behaviour; my property at risk of loss of property value.”

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