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Community project to transform former golf course to go green for Queen's Jubilee

March 23, 2022

Community project to transform former golf course to go green for Queen’s Jubilee

A community-led project to breathe new life into a once popular golf course is set to be home to thousands of new trees as part of plans to establish a North East Community Forest and to support the Queen's Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

Swathes of land at the former Elemore golf course in Hetton-le-Hole is set to spring back to life with the planting of over 15,000 native trees and shrubs over the coming months.

Once complete, the 'Elemore Green Space and Social Enterprise Development' - led by the Elemore Park project - will be home to social enterprises developing training opportunities, including a café and a garden centre growing vegetables and plants to sell to the local community; a visitor and exhibition centre highlighting the history of the area and a series of 'pocket forests' that would be owned by schools and community groups.

The event is one of many planting ceremonies taking place as part of The Queen's Green Canopy, an initiative inviting people from across the United Kingdom to "Plant a Tree for the Jubilee" and also supports the celebration of the United Nations 2022 International Day of Forests, which aims to raise awareness of sustainable forest development.

Everyone from individuals to scout and girlguiding groups, cities and businesses are being encouraged to play their part by planting trees during the current planting season which began in October and continues until March, with the planting at Elemore helping establish the site's 'pocket forests'. Tree planting will then recommence in October 2022, through to the end of the Jubilee year.

The first of the trees at Elemore was officially planted today [22 Mar] by the Mayor of Sunderland, Cllr Harry Trueman, who was joined by Wing Commander David L Harris DL, RAFAC (representing the Lord Lieutenant of Tyne and Wear), as well as by the Mayoress Cllr Dorothy Trueman, local Hetton ward councillors together with representatives from Trees for Cities, the North East Community Forest (NECF), Elemore Park Project Group as well as Bishopwearmouth Nurseries, which has kindly donated the ceremonial tree.

The initiative has been backed by over £124,000 in funding from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and NECF, as well as £21,500 from the charity Trees for Cities and will see Elemore provide a significant contribution to the North East Community Forest, which will cover 1,503 square kilometres of land across the North East.

Cllr Harry Trueman, Mayor of Sunderland, said: "The Queen's Platinum Jubilee is a truly momentous occasion and we're proud as a city to be playing a key part in marking the event by participating in the Queen's Green Canopy.

"As a city, Sunderland has made a commitment to become carbon neutral by 2040 and initiatives like this will play an important part in helping us achieve our ambitions."

Members of the community will also be participating in a group planting event, contributing to over 5 hectares of new planting on site, including 8,500 native woodland trees, 1.3km of new hedgerow and new areas of wildflower meadow. 

The community planting day will take place on Friday [25 March] and will see volunteers from local groups plant 570 trees on the site with further community planting events to follow, linked to Sunderland being part of the NE Community Forest which was launched on 2 February.

Cllr Claire Rowntree, deputy leader of Sunderland City Council and ward councillor for Hetton, said: "We've been working closely with residents over the past 18 months or so to shape our plans to transform the golf course site into 'Elemore Park', which will not only see the area restored to its natural beauty, but also become a popular destination where residents can meet and socialise.

"At the heart of this are plans to turn the former clubhouse into a community-run café, garden centre, visitor centre and community space, with the garden centre and café also supporting training for adults with disabilities, so it's great to see so many members of the community signing up to get involved in the tree planting which, along with this development, will see us really bring this much-loved area back to life."

For more information on Sunderland's Low Carbon Framework, visit: https://www.sunderland.gov.uk/lowcarbon

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