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Ouseburn Valley

Ouseburn Valley’s orchard gets a makeover

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) awarded Ouseburn Farm and the
Ouseburn Trust £50,000 towards the delivery of the Ouseburn Green Spaces project a year
ago. This grant from the North East LEPs ‘Local Growth Fund’, a key programme of the
Government economic growth agenda, has enabled two projects to get off the ground.
The woodland’s improvement work starts this autumn but the orchard improvements are
now complete.

In this first part of the Ouseburn Green Spaces project, contractors W L Straughan & Son Ltd have
been hard at work since August to implement major changes to the Ouseburn orchard. They have
improved boundaries and fences, redefined walkways and paths, landscaped an area dedicated to
outdoor learning, and repaired the wildlife pond.

“The orchard is a precious green space in the heart of the Ouseburn Valley”, says Hugh Stolliday,
Ouseburn Farm Business Manager. “We’re very grateful to North East LEP for funding these
renovations, which will benefit everyone in our local community. Working in partnership with the
Ouseburn Trust to enhance and protect our green spaces is central to our mission at Ouseburn Farm;
we can’t wait to welcome the public to see all the improvements we’ve been able to make.”

The orchard’s trees are semi-mature and produce a good harvest of apples, pears, and plums every year,
however, accessibility and usability of the space required improvements. Paths have been widened and
covered in dolomite to allow people to navigate the orchard more safely, whether walking or using a
wheelchair. An area has been landscaped to create a seating feature that will enable Ouseburn Farm and
other community groups to use the space as an outdoor classroom or gathering space. In addition to
the landscaping and physical improvements, this project will help provide volunteer placements for
young people who have been placed at risk of unemployment and economic exclusion as a result of the
pandemic. Overgrowth has started to be cleared, particularly around the pond and walkways, but
volunteers will continue to work over the autumn, winter and spring to make the area more habitable
for local residents, visitors, school groups, and crucially, the wildlife population.

In recent years, the Valley’s wildlife has been in decline. This is particularly true of the dragonfly and
damselfly populations. Much of the meadow grassland in the orchard had become overgrown,
encouraging anti-social behaviour and habitat destruction. These changes, along with ongoing
improvements and management, hope to see the orchard and wider Ouseburn Valley woodland to
continue to thrive as a natural haven in the heart of the city.

Helen Golightly, Chief Executive of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said: “Seeing the
orchard revitalised marks an important milestone in the Ouseburn Green Spaces project. It’s essential
that we are able to support programmes like this, which help create a better, greener future for North
East communities, through the Local Growth Fund VCSE Capital Grant programme, and I’m delighted to
see the improvements to the orchard. It’s now a space where people will learn new skills, where trees
and wildlife can flourish and where community groups can meet.”

Ouseburn Trust’s Chief Officer said: “Ouseburn Valley’s green spaces are often overlooked by many
visitors so this investment and the resulting works help to showcase the quality of experience that can
be had outside of a typical, often indoor, visitor attraction; a way to engage with nature in the heart of
the City, and a vital component in supporting the well-being of those who can take the time out to
appreciate such a valuable resource.”

Find out more about the Ouseburn Green Spaces Project and visit Ouseburn