More than £300,000 of support from Northumbrian Water has been given to organisations across the North East to support community, environmental and heritage projects.

The money, which has been released from legacy Landfill Tax funds, has gone to 11 projects, including a theatre redevelopment, a museum’s historic garden, an eco-friendly visitor centre, and a nature reserve upgrade.

The funding has been allocated through the County Durham Community Foundation, Tees Valley Community Foundation and the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland.

In County Durham, funding includes £42,705 to Beamish, The Living Museum of the North towards the creation of an allotment in its Remaking Beamish project, £18,850 for Groundwork North East & Cumbria and partners to develop a dementia-friendly Water Garden in Chester-le Street, £20,762 for Durham Wildlife Trust to restore the hydrology at a nature reserve in Witton-le-Wear, and £11,190 to Trimdon Colliery Community Association to develop a sensory garden.

Three grants of £40,000 each have been allocated in the Tees Valley. These have gone to Tees Cottage Pumping Station for a project backed by the Heritage Lottery Fund and engineering firm Cummins to improve the site’s facilities, the redevelopment project to transform Darlington Civic Theatre into Darlington Hippodrome, and Saltholme RSPB for upgrades including improved access, better habitats for terns and new facilities for young visitors.

Two grants have gone to Northumberland Wildlife Trust. These include £30,000 towards the heating system at the Trust’s new visitor centre in Hauxley, as well as £8,299 towards the development of Hodgkin Park in Newcastle.

Also in Tyne and Wear, Ryhope Pumping Station has received £26,958 towards opening up greater access and technology for visitors with disabilities. A £25,000 grant for the Friends of Tynemouth Outdoor Pool will allow a new ramp to be built from the main entrance to the decking area, where amenities such as restaurants and cafes will be housed, as part of the £2.7m first phase of work.

Louise Hunter, Director of Corporate Affairs at Northumbrian Water, said: “We understand the value that strong communities bring to the places and customers we serve here in the North East.

“Each of these 11 projects has demonstrated great potential to add real value to those communities, and we have worked with our partners to identify organisations with ambitions to deliver exciting ideas that also support and reflect the environment and local heritage.

“We are very excited to see the results of each of these projects as they are delivered and become a part of community life, helping a wide range of people to get more out of the resources around them.

“It’s great that we have been able to release some of our legacy Landfill Tax funds held with County Durham, Tees Valley and the Tyne & Wear and Northumberland Community Foundations to support these projects.”

Funded projects 

County Durham

The projects supported in County Durham are:

  • £42,705 to Beamish, The Living Museum of the North. The money will support the Museum’s Remaking Beamish project. Seb Littlewood, Head of Rural Life at Beamish, said: “It’s fantastic to have Northumbrian Water’s support with Remaking Beamish. The gardens and allotments will really enhance to the immersive experience that we already offer and add another dimension to the work we do with schools and older adults.”
  • £18,850 to Groundwork North East & Cumbria. The development of the Water Garden in Chester-le-Street will improve disabled access and make the site dementia-friendly. Joanne Norman, Senior Project Officer at Groundwork North East & Cumbria, said: “This funding is a great boost to our plans to create the new dementia-friendly Water Garden at Riverside Park. The support of organisations, such as Northumbrian Water, is vital to help us realise our ambitions for this site and we are grateful for their support.”
  • £20,762 to Durham Wildlife Trust. The Trust will use the money to reinstate the hydrology at the Low Barns Nature Reserve at Witton-le-Wear. Mark Richardson, Durham Wildlife Trust Reserves Manager said: “Generous support from Northumbrian Water has enabled the Trust to carry out essential improvements at Low Barns Nature Reserve, which will benefit both wildlife and visitors alike. The wetland habitats are very important for species such as otter and the many breeding wildfowl that use the site and the project will enhance those habitats for many years to come.”
  • £11,190 to Trimdon Colliery Community Association. The development of a sensory garden in Trimdon Colliery will bring the site back to life after a local consultation identified a sensory garden as the preferred option for its new use. Durham County Councillor Lucy Hovvels, who is Chair of the Trimdon Colliery Community Association, said: “The new sensory garden will be a great place for people to visit, to mix with others in the community and to help combat social isolation. It is great that Northumbrian Water has provided these funds to be used in the community in this way. The many parties that are coming together to make this sensory garden become a reality all have different things to contribute and the result will be a brilliant addition to the heart of our community.”

Barbara Gubbins, Chief Executive of County Durham Community Foundation said:“It has been wonderful to see such a wide range of innovative projects funded  recently by Northumbrian Water.  We are really looking forward to see them come to fruition and the benefits they will provide to the local community.”

Tyne & Wear and Northumberland

The projects supported in Tyne & Wear and Northumberland are:

  • £30,000 to Northumberland Wildlife Trust for a heating system to be installed at the new wildlife discover centre at Hauxley Nature Reserve. Duncan Hutt, Head of Land Management at Northumberland Wildlife Trust, said: “Our new wildlife discovery centre at Hauxley has the potential to be the North East’s most eco-friendly building. Without the support of the local community and organisations including Northumbrian Water, it simply wouldn’t be possible to replace the building that was destroyed in the fire.”
  • £8,299 to Northumberland Wildlife Trust towards the development of Hodgkin Park, Newcastle. Nick Mason, Northumberland Wildlife Trust’s Director of Living Landscapes, said: “It’s great that organisations like the Friends of Hodgkin Park are interested in supporting the green spaces in our communities, and that businesses such as Northumbrian Water are willing to partner with us in helping them to do so. This funding will help us to create a venue that celebrates this wonderful park and makes it part of the community.”
  • £26,958 to Ryhope Pumping Station to improve disabled access and provide technology enabling visitors to see areas of the museum that are not normally accessible. Keith Bell, Chairman of Ryhope Engines Museum, said: “This support from Northumbrian Water has made a huge difference to the way many visitors are able to experience Ryhope Engines Museum. People can now get to see more of the museum directly and indirectly, thanks to the changes we have been able to make as a result of this funding.”
  • £25,000 to Tynemouth Pool to part fund the pool’s redevelopment. Dave Harland, Chair of the Friends of Tynemouth Outdoor Pool, said: “This funding from Northumbrian Water is a major boost to our plans, as it will help provide the new ramp that forms a big part of our plans to improve accessibility. The support of organisations, such as Northumbrian Water, is vital in making this project a reality, so we are very pleased to receive this grant.”

Su Legg, Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland’s Senior Philanthropy Advisor said: “This funding has provided a fantastic opportunity for the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland to work closely with Northumbrian Water and support some incredible projects, all of which will provide enjoyable recreational and learning opportunities for members of the community.”

Tees Valley

The projects supported in the Tees Valley are:

  • £40,000 to Tees Cottage Pumping Station for improvements to the site in conjunction with engineering company Cummins. Phil Doran, Chairman of Tees Cottage Pumping Station, said: “We are very pleased to have such a good working relationship with Northumbrian Water and hope that the partnership continues in the same positive way. Having struggled for so many years, the financial support is almost beyond words and will secure the site for future generations.”
  • £40,000 to Saltholme RSPB for a variety of projects, including improved access, better habitats for terns and new facilities for young visitors. Mike Harris, RSPB Corporate Partnership Manager, said: “Taken together, these improvements will greatly add to the interest and enjoyment of visitors to the reserve, supporting visitor numbers, which are so crucial to the viability of the reserve and the vital conservation work that is carried out in Teesside.”
  • £40,000 to Darlington Civic Theatre to support the redevelopment of the theatre, which will reopen in the Autumn as Darlington Hippodrome. Lynda Winstanley, Director of Darlington Hippodrome, said: “We are delighted that Northumbrian Water has chosen to support the Darlington Hippodrome restoration in this way. The backing of local partners is vital in making this project a success and we are excited at the prospect of the iconic water tower becoming a fantastic public space in the new venue.”

Hugh McGouran, Chief Executive of  Tees Valley Community Foundation said: “We’re just very proud to have played a part in bringing alive these projects – from securing the Tees Cottage Pumping Station funds to enabling Saltholme RSPB to continue their valuable conservation work,  sustaining our wild bird population for all to enjoy.  To be able to contribute to the redevelopment of the new Darlington Hippodrome has been fantastic – and we very much look forward to the opening in autumn. This diverse range of projects reflects the vibrancy of this unique and wonderful place that is Tees Valley.”