3 Min Read: Dene Valley and Eldon

This project was researched and delivered by Dr Stephen Pritchard over a 6-month period in 2019. The aim was to enable the community of two parishes; Dene Valley and Eldon to identify and discuss the issues and challenges they are facing as well as imagining and recognising their needs for the future in the place they live – what might regeneration look like and involve and what is needed by the community to develop and become more sustainable.  This R&D phase involved Stephen talking to and engaging with as many people as possible living in or connected to Dene Valley and Eldon including the MP, local councillors, allotment holders, NHS workers, people and young people in the streets and parks and many more.

Stephen started delivery in June, tailoring community conversations to prepare for work with Ruth Ben-Tovim, founder of Encounters Arts to deliver “A Valley Gathering.” This was a visioning event, where the community, with children, young people and families playing a central role, were invited to step into an imagined future and physically build a 3D model of a flourishing Dene Valley and Eldon.

Following this Stephen worked from July – September using grassroots community art as a medium to engage people of all ages using space in local venues, on the street and in a pop up marquee to continue conversations and create an inclusive picture of what the people of Dene Valley and Eldon would like to see happen.

Some of the outcomes of this work include:

  • INCREDIBLE EDIBLE – A meeting between Pam Warhurst and the community to discuss the implementation of the Incredible Edible initiative.
  • CREATIVE COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT TRUST – Setting up a CCDT consisting of a partnership of County Councillors, Parish Councils, Prince Bishops Community Infant School, Dene Valley Community Partnership, Eldon Community Centre, and other local people and businesses.
  • COMMUNITY ALLOTMENT ­­– Dene Valley Parish Council have given an allotment to the community which we will make good and offer to local people as small plots
  • COMMUNITY GARDEN SHARING –An initiative to share excess plants and produce amongst neighbours, initially in Close House and Eldon.
  • LANE GARDENING – Clear, dig and plant back lane in Viner Street, Close House and another back lane in Eldon Lane with intention of asking Area Action Partnership to replicate this during its forthcoming action plan in the area.
  • WALKING THE BOUNDS – A community walk (hopefully to become an annual event) around little-used and well-known paths around the area to walk and talk together whilst exploring nature and heritage features. Map to be produced. Possibility of becoming one of several heritage/nature walks around the area that could be signposted and marketed to walkers and tourists.
  • COMMUNITY MUSEUM/ARCHIVE – Look at working in partnership with local people and Dene Valley Community Partnership to begin concept design of community-owned and led museum and archive. Possibility of purchasing or Community Asset Transfer of ex-Sure Start building. Employment and training and legacy.
  • CATEGORY D FILM – Bridget Adams (Newcastle University intern) and Gary Mottram (local volunteer). Film projected onto side of a building at The Hollow. Large screen showing and community conversation mid-Oct 2019 at Eldon Lane Social Club.
  • YOUNG PEOPLE CREATIVE DEVELOPMENT SESSIONS – Creative design sessions with young people starting with development of ideas for MTB/BMX track on half of The Hollow.
  • MTB/BMX TRACK ON THE HOLLOW – Use half of the land to build track with start ramp and jumps, berms, etc. from soil, rubble and clay. Course to follow as many existing streets and footprint of demolished miners’ cottages – track features to be named after demolished streets – e.g. Brook Terrace Berm, etc. (Ongoing. Needs funding (c. £12,500). Quick to build (2 weeks).
  • COMMUNITY ASSET TRANSFER OF LAND AT THE HOLLOW – Complete Community Asset Transfer and hopefully hand to newly formed Creative Community Development Trust. Bike track to be built on it. (Awaiting decision from DCC.)
    EXHIBITION AT TRIMMERS, BISHOP AUCKLAND – Exhibition of photographs of lesser-known local characters who have positive visions and ideas about the future of Dene Valley and Eldon to be displayed in local hairdressers with accompanying text and links. Idea to highlight the people of the area and the things starting to develop in the area
  • ARTWORK FROM EXHIBITION TO BE EXHIBITED AT NEW BISHOPS PARK HOUSING DEVELOPMENT – TBC. Possibility of Linden Homes exhibiting work in the show home and marketing suite. (Oct/Nov 2019.)
  • SHILDON MODEL RAILWAY CLUB – Introductory creative art sessions in new building in Close House to encourage local young people and adults to join the club and develop a Dene Valley section.
  • More Than Viable- CATEGORY D ARCHIVE WEB PAGE
  • More Than Viable PROJECT ARCHIVE WEB PAGE
  • More Than Viable FILM