With children slowly returning to education, a North East developer is helping one County Durham school get back to nature.
Durham Villages Regeneration Company (DVRC) – a partnership between Durham County Council and Keepmoat Homes – normally builds new homes but instead has constructed a composting patch and bug hotel at Collierley Nursery and Primary School in Dipton.
The feature will complement the school’s outdoor play area – also donated by DVRC as part of its community engagement programme – which incorporates weighing scales, a large chalkboard, giant paint and ‘tuff’ spot tables.
Pupils have previously visited Keepmoat Homes development – Coppice Heights – in the village and designed the safety posters which were displayed on site. In addition, they worked with students from Derwentside College – who also benefited from work experience with Keepmoat Homes – to create a welly store and changing area for the school.
Geoff Scott, Social and Economic Impact Manager with Keepmoat Homes, said: “As a partnership our ethos is to forge links in the community, this goes beyond the donation of equipment – it is about involving the school community, which is at the heart of this village.
“Through our connection with Collierley Nursery and Primary School we have been able to engage the children about the dangers of building sites, highlight jobs within the profession and support projects that benefit the wider locality.”
DVRC was responsible for developing the site (Coppice Heights) at Palmers Road, Dipton where all homes have now sold. In addition, it also has developments at The Fell, Chester-le-Street, Woodland Mews at Peterlee and Byron Mews at Seaham. Since formation in 2001 the partnership has invested over £200 million, creating 2,000 homes on 32 sites – around 450 for affordable rent through local housing associations.
And with those sold attracting an average price of around £105,000, DVRC has consistently delivered homes within the reach of local, young people. Over 80% of them so far sold have been bought by those living within 10 miles of the development and around 60% were first time buyers.
Angela McDermid, Head Teacher at Collierley Nursery and Primary School said: “It has been rewarding for the children and the wider locality to join forces with DVRC. The benefits have extended past the school gates to the village of Dipton.
“As a school we are passionate and committed to outdoor learning, something which has proved advantageous whilst tackling the challenges posed by coronavirus. The donation of the bug hotel and composting area is a great addition to our growing outdoor activities.
“Children’s learning is influenced significantly by their environment, surrounds and nature, rather than being passively taught.”
Mark Davinson, Durham County Council’s Cabinet support member for strategic housing and assets said: “I’m pleased to see that DVRC is having a positive contribution on the community in Dipton. Our partnership has always been about more than bricks and mortar; it is about ensuring that projects are developed for the benefit of the wider community, providing things they can use and learn from in the locality.
“This is the latest example of community engagement and as children return to school for the start of a new year, we hope it will help to connect them to their environment and enjoy the benefits of their surroundings.”
For more information about all the DVRC projects, visit the Keepmoat website and search for the development’s name.
*Picture caption: (L-R) Geoff Scott, Social and Economic Impact Manager with Keepmoat Homes and Collierley Nursery & Primary School pupils Jessica, Kodie, Noah and Judah.