VOLUNTEERS, backed by two local councillors, have carried out a litter pick at a former golf course undergoing transformation into a country park.

Twenty-five community-minded local people took part in the mass clear-up at the ex-Elemore Golf Course, which stood on the reclaimed site of the former Elemore Colliery, between Easington Lane and Durham.

The litter pickers were assisted by two local councillors, representing Hetton-le-Hole seats on Sunderland City Council.

Councillor Claire Rowntree, who is deputy council leader, and Cllr James Blackburn helped the volunteers collect 25 bags of litter, including cans, bottles and branches brought down by the storm-force winds over the winter.

Plans to create an eco-park, visitor, heritage and garden centre at the site are continuing to move forward following last year’s Let's Talk Elemore consultation with local residents on how they would like to see it developed, following the golf course closure in 2019.

Work has already begun refurbishing the former clubhouse following the granting of planning approval earlier this year.

It is set to become a community-run garden centre and plant nursery with a cafe, and heritage visitor centre.

The council is working with local heritage and environmental groups to develop signage to inform visitors of the area’s rich heritage and ecology.

Planning permission for the remainder of the site is said to be progressing, with a decision due later in the summer.

Cllr Rowntree, who chairs the Elemore Project Group, said: “The community in Hetton have really taken this project to their hearts and it’s brilliant to see so many of them continuing to get involved in activities like the litter pick.

“Local residents have been instrumental in helping shape the plans for the country park through the Let’s Talk Elemore consultation.

“They were clear from the start that they wanted to see the site being used as a country park with a garden centre and visitor centre
“They also they wanted the project to celebrate the area’s heritage and protect the ecology of the area.

“It's really exciting to see the transformation underway and there will be many other opportunities for people to get involved as the country park continues to take shape.”

Approved works in Elemore include the redevelopment of existing buildings to transform them into café facilities, garden centre, visitor centre and community space, to feature specialist changing places and facilities for residents with severe physical disabilities.

There are also plans to improve the existing car park and create an additional eco-friendly parking area, with electric charging points and tree planting.

The additional parking will enable more visitors to enjoy the park, particularly those with reduced mobility.

Read more: Cops take to golf buggies to target yobs

 Other plans include the installation of play equipment and seating, improved pathways for ease of movement across the site, and to provide access points for nearby housing areas.

A special website, www.sunderland.gov.uk/letstalkelemore, features more information about the development plans.

Keep up to date with all the latest news on our website, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

You can also follow our dedicated County Durham Facebook page for all the latest in the area by clicking here.

For all the top news updates from right across the region straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here.

Have you got a story for us? Contact our newsdesk on newsdesk@nne.co.uk or contact 01325 505054