What is a Parish Plan?
A Parish Plan is a ‘vision’ for the future of our community. Its aims are to identify key issues and practical ways to address them. It should also be community based and identify actions that most people in the village would support.
This page is just a summary of the Parish Plan 2009.
You can download a full copy here.
This is a very large (5 MB) PDF File
Housing Needs Survey The Parish Plan identified a requirement to understand the housing needs within the parish. The Parish Council and Stocksfield Community Association Trading Arm (SCATA) jointly commisioned a survey to establish the degree of local need and demand for new homes, whether they are affordable, rented, in shared ownership or in full ownership. The subsequent report can be found here.
Changes Since Our Last Parish Plan
The last Parish Plan was in 1997. Since then, much has been achieved, including a completely new play area at Branch End and a new Multi-Use Games Area on the sports field, both opened in 2008. The latest review of the Parish Plan can be found here. The village is a greener place than it was ten years ago, with excellent recycling facilities and new doorstep collections. New pedestrian crossings, speed activated road signs and dog bins have also been provided. But some of the bigger issues have proved more difficult to deliver – new affordable homes, better footpaths, improved car parking, fewer lorries on our roads, a new sports hall and even a revival of the old Village Show remain outstanding.
Our Plan-making Process
A Core Group of some Councillors and interested residents began work in January 2008. They set up 8 theme groups with a wider village membership (see under Main Issues in our Village) to report on current issues. As well as talking to local groups and businesses about their views, the Core Group organised 2 village walkabouts, two Action Planning Events, interviewed 250 local residents on their doorstep and local sixth formers at Prudhoe Community High School
The Main Issues in Our Village
Housing and development Although any village development is controversial, we need a better mix of housing, with more affordable homes and appropriate housing for older people. However, any such development will mean the potential loss of green space, extra traffic and more pressure on our local services. The main areas for potential development are the Old Station Yard, the fields opposite Broomley School, the fields next to Old Ridley, the land next to the garage and Spar and Merryshields Farm. Proposals to expand business provision at Stocksfield Hall will benefit our local economy, employ some local people and help maintain our services, but will also generate extra traffic on already busy roads.
Our local environment While Tynedale has significantly reduced the percentage of household waste going to landfill, much plastic material is no longer accepted for re-cycling. Fly tipping is still causing problems, particularly on the footpath that follows the Guessburn. Traffic on our narrow rural lanes restricts the opportunities for walking. A footpath along the south bank of the Tyne has been a long-standing priority. Two wind turbine clusters are proposed at Hedley on the Hill and Currock Hill. They will generate clean energy but may spoil the general beauty of the area. Other proposals include the expansion of Stocksfield Hall, Hollings Hill landfill (which could bring domestic waste through the village) and the continuation of quarrying at Broadoak Quarry outside Ebchester. There is some dissatisfaction with the restoration of Merryshields Quarry re suitable nesting areas. The drains seem unable to cope, particularly during heavy rains. Despite the introduction of bins, dog litter remains an issue for a significant number of residents.
Sport and leisure Most of the sports and leisure facilities in the village are not owned by the clubs that run them, limiting their ability to invest in new provision. All the clubs are dependant on the work of committees and volunteers to function, and it is becoming more difficult to both recruit and sustain voluntary involvement. All clubs are financially viable but constantly need to work hard to achieve the income to remain solvent. Many are reliant on grant aid support, particularly to fund any new development initiatives. The sports fields at the Cricket Club, already heavily used, is facing additional demand with a request for an additional football pitch and proposals to upgrade the drainage, acquire new goalposts, and put in additional floodlighting for a grass training area. This in turn would mean improving the clubhouse and providing additional changing and showering facilities. There have also been suggestions for widening the range of activities - for example a running track or outdoor bowls facility (as well as improving equipment for the indoor bowls that currently exists) to cater for a wider audience and age range. Increasing casual use of existing facilities may be possible, but this does present challenges for clubs who primarily need to cater effectively for their members. An indoor sports hall with gym / fitness room and possibly a squash court are still desirable. All this suggests that, despite the rent of an additional field in recent years, space is still a problem and we may need to look at additional space in the village, as well as catering for less organised activities, such as a skateboard park, youth shelter, BMX bike track or gym. Although they have access to the sports field, the school does not have its’ own outdoor sports area, which may limit the amount of physical exercise activities that the school can offer. Facilities for older and disabled people are also limited. SICA does provide a range of indoor sports and leisure facilities, but it is not suitable for a number of indoor sports. Other leisure activities, such as allotments, are not widely available. The cost of some activities, such as golf, tennis or riding may prove restrictive for some residents.
Young people Our discussions with young people through events and the household survey have not been comprehensive enough. With what we do know, we need to look at a range of facilities and services, for very young children, those up to 9 years old, 9 - 12s, and 13s - 18s, as their requirements are radically different. Many of the activities are completely reliant on volunteers, and for raising their own funds. Other organisations would be willing to become more involved but lack the resources to take on any new projects. At the teenager end, youth clubs (both in the village and at Prudhoe) are not well-attended on a regular basis. Current buildings are not “user friendly” to most young people. Transport to outside facilities is also an issue.
Highways and transport The A695 remains a problem, with the prevalence of heavy traffic and large lorries. There is only one narrow footpath along parts of it, and it is often difficult for two people to pass each other without actually stepping onto the road due to lack of hedge trimming. This is not acceptable for a route regularly used by parents with buggies and children going to school. There have been a number of accidents between the sports fields and Birches Nook Road during icy and wet conditions. There is also a problem with speeding traffic on New Ridley Road and at its’ junction between New Ridley Road and Hedley on the Hill Road, as well as on other residential roads and through Broomley and New Ridley villages. Outside developments, as identified in the environment theme, will also impinge on the volume and type of traffic coming through the village. Parking and parked cars remains a problem both for motorists and pedestrians, with particular “hotspots” on New Ridley Road, on parts of the Birkdene Estate, at the Painshawfield Road / New Ridley Road junction, at Birches Nook, the sports fields and on the A695 between the garage and Branch End Play Area. The state of repair of the Parish roads and the level of road gritting in winter are regularly reported to the County Council. Public transport late at night is still an issue, with limited evening services, access for cycles, and overcrowding at certain times.
Health and social care There is a lack of suitable housing for older people, who want to live independently but may need to downsize to smaller homes, or for those who require supported care accommodation. Mental health issues (for the wider community as well as elderly people) may also need to be assessed, as this is an area that is often overlooked. Not everyone in the village is happy about the standard of medical service they receive in the village. Given the recent difficulties experienced by the Northumberland Care Trust, there are still no guarantees about the future of village-based GP services. Other issues include childcare facilities at Hexham Hospital, the response rate of ambulances for patients requiring emergency treatment, and possible relocation to hospitals outside the area. As with other parts of the country, obesity is an issue for adults and children.
Lifelong learning Broomley First School has had to use Portacabin to meet increased demand, and does not have its’ own sports fields. The possible introduction of two-tier education in Northumberland is likely to have an impact on its’ future, which could result in any one of a refurbishment, closing down or merging with another school. There may be a need to co-ordinate existing adult learning activities within the village to avoid duplication and offer a wider range of courses. The library stop on Mount View Terrace is increasingly hampered by the level of traffic on this road. If there was any significant housing development, it is questionable whether a mobile library service would meet the needs of an expanded population.
Community life Stocksfield is essentially two villages merged into one, with its services stretched out along its whole length and lacking a natural centre. Any significant housing developments could put a strain on our current provision such as the school and doctors’ surgery. but could also ensure the sustainability of existing services and businesses and possibly attract new ones. Any new development would impact on the social mix in Stocksfield, and could affect the viability of our many local activities and facilities if it were to develop into a commuter village. Although a friendly village, isolation is still an issue for some elderly people and for young people. New residents to the village may find it difficult to become involved in what are well-established groups and activities, particularly if they work full-time.
The Parish Council While the Parish Council has limited powers to affect bigger issues, such as planning and transport, changes in Government legislation and in the structure of the County Council offer our village a chance to have more control over some of the services we receive. However, Councillors work on a purely voluntary, unpaid basis, often on top of full-time work or other major commitments. Any move to take on more direct service provision would require an even greater commitment both from Councillors and local residents, which may deter both existing and potential volunteers.
Our Priorities For Action
It should be noted that several priorities that have emerged would benefit more than one theme. For example, community transport could help young people to access outside services, residents to get out of their homes and thereby reduce their isolation, and also those wishing to avail themselves of learning opportunities outside the village. Similarly, a community development trust, if formed, may be able to manage the community transport scheme, as well as tackling some of the other priorities such as managing any services we may want to deliver more locally, co-ordinating the range of adult learning classes in the village or being the focal point for any funding applications to improve local provision. In such cases, there will be one reference to the priority, with cross-referencing to other themes in brackets.
Housing and Development
- Maintain the rural nature of Stocksfield by limiting new housing developments to within the built up area of the village
- Support appropriate existing and future business development
- Look to widen the range of appropriate housing to accommodate the differing demands and to enable those residents wishing to remain in the village to do so.
- Limit the development of Broomley and Hindley
- Focus new development on the smaller sites such as Branch End
- Increase the range of housing available in the village e.g. affordable, supported, lifetime, sheltered, residential, nursing , palliative care
- Explore the potential for new village facilities at Merryshields Farm
- Monitor and canvass the relevant authorities on day-to-day environmental issues
- Investigate creating more or widening existing footpaths that would encourage walking and keep pedestrians away from heavy traffic (also Highways and Transport theme)
- Draw up a village policy on wind farms, open cast mining and mineral and waste development in conjunction with the Eastern Parishes Forum
- Actively pursue the development of the former Merryshields Quarry as a locally managed Nature Reserve
- Actively pursue creating a River Tyne footpath along the south bank from Bywell Bridge
- Actively pursue the creation of ‘Quiet Lanes’ in the Parish
Sport and Leisure
- To promote and enhance sport and leisure opportunities within the village
- Review the current use of the sports fields and club house facilities
- Investigate other potential sites for sports to accommodate existing and future demand on space
- Where possible, increase range of sport and leisure activities
- Investigate the potential for a small gym / fitness centre at the sports field
- Include possible provision of a indoor sports hall in any long-term plans for a new school or development within the village
- Encourage existing village facilities to open up to more casual use for more physical activity opportunities (also Young People theme)
- Ensure our provision reflect the needs of different age groups within the village
- Offer the opportunity for young people to access services elsewhere in the area
- Support the high quality nursery provision and play facilities within the village
- Bring together young people to discuss how they would like to influence decisions that affect the village (also Community Life theme)
- Investigate the possibility of a casual “drop-in” centre, youth shelter or internet café type provision
Highways and Transport
- Influence and pressurise, in association with the Eastern Parishes Forum where appropriate, the relevant authorities to provide adequate resources to maintain roads, highways and pavements to a high standard throughout the Parish and the wider district.
- Monitor the volume and size of traffic, particularly on A695
- Actively pursue measures which will reduce the risk of accidents, and safeguard the needs of motorists, cyclists and pedestrians, but will be sensitive to the local environment and the overall appearance of the village
- In association with the Eastern Parishes Forum, lobby public transport providers for better public transport in the evenings, more rail capacity at peak times, and better cycle carrying facilities
- Open up the old Station Yard to create more parking, including more extensive covered cycle racks
- Investigate requests for a weight limits and speed restrictions on appropriate roads in Stocksfield in consultation with local residents
- Investigate the potential for 20mph speed limits on minor village roads and other safety measures in consultation with local residents
- Continue to seek ways to improve traffic flow and reduce the prospect of accidents along New Ridley Road, particularly at road junctions (e.g. top of Painshawfield Road)
- Liaise with Highways departments re car parking “hotspots”
Health and Social Care
- Investigate creating more lifetime homes, and more sheltered, residential, nursing and palliative care provision
- Care home in the village with appropriate support
- In association with Eastern Parishes Forum, monitor social services in the light of local needs and promote their availability to appropriate residents
- Create more activities and facilities to reduce isolation e.g. a community cafe, “friendship visits”
- Liaise with GP practice and Patients Forum on new ways of supporting those with care needs and their carers
- Look at future capacity of burial space and the possibility of introducing green burials
- Ensure education provision reflects the needs of local children and parents in terms of availability and quality of local schools
- Provide a wide range of opportunities for adult learning and recreational pursuits
- Monitor developments on the County Council policy on education to provide the strongest possible case for keeping our school within the village, either by developing the current premises or building a new purpose-built school
- Create stronger links between the Parish Council and the School
- Coordinate IT provision within the village. Encourage new providers such as the University of the Third Age to make classes, on a variety of subjects, locally available and provide transport to other venues where possible
- Ensure that everyone has the opportunity to enjoy community life and feel part of the village by developing and promoting our services to cater for the whole population range
Specific Aims :
- Create an All-Village Festival
- Look at the viability for establishing a Stocksfield Community Development Trust to develop local services and acquire assets for community benefit -
- investigate residential provision (Housing and Development theme)
- look at potential funds such as Grassroots and Community Builders to assist with developing community infrastructure and provide financial and volunteer support for the wide range of social, sport and leisure activities in the village (Community Life theme)
- create a community facilities network to co-ordinate events and reduce duplication of effort among local clubs and groups (Community Life theme)
- investigate viability of community transport in association with neighbouring villages (Community Life, Young People, Highways and Transport, Health and Social Care and Lifelong Learning themes)
- take any opportunities for developing services for community benefit and on a not-for-profit basis that lie outside the current powers of the Parish Council
- act as a central purchasing organisation for local clubs and societies to benefit from economies of scale
- Provide a welcome pack, “friendship visits” or a ‘Freshers’ Fair’ for newcomers to the village
- Provide more “drop-in” facilities, visits and other activities to reduce isolation
- To address issues, in consultation with residents, that affect the village
- Promote the expressed needs of the village within the relevant area and county authorities
- Explore potential for developing services locally where desirable and appropriate either within the Parish or with neighbouring villages and Eastern Parishes Forum
- Review and publicise grants budget annually (offering support where necessary) to promote local clubs and encourage new activities where there is sufficient demand (also Young People’s theme)
- Circulate the Parish Plan to key organisations in the County to inform and influence decision makers regarding the expressed needs of residents
- Promote local clubs and activities through Council outlets like NE43 News and the website and ensure they are kept up-to-date on new developments that may affect their services.