Dear Sir
I read the article in Newton News on housing grant in Newton Aycliffe where the emphasis seemed to be on the A167 plus installing water, sewage and power supplies “overcoming significant development costs that had been affecting the viability of housing sites within the town”.  Other print media, stated, “The Government has awarded £6.8 million to Durham County Council through its Housing Infrastructure Fund to improve infrastructure in Newton Aycliffe”.  It would seem that it is Durham County Council (DCC) who have decided how this grant would be spent.
Is it just coincidence that DCC owns a huge area of land to the east of the town at Copelaw (formerly Aycliffe Centre for Children and farm land) which is earmarked for housing?
Would having improved access to this site and roads/utilities in place on the site make it easier for DCC to sell, and probably at an improved sale price?
If the Council sell this land for housing, land I believe to have been gifted to them by the Trustees, would Newton Aycliffe benefit in any way from the profits from the sale?
Remember the Avenue School site in a prime position on Central Avenue.  How did Newton Aycliffe benefit from the money accrued from the sale of the site of the school buildings where Tesco now stands?
If DCC genuinely want to quote, “overcome significant development costs that had been affecting the viability of housing sites” there are at least two other sites with planning permission that would certainly benefit from a share of this grant and improve the town’s infrastructure; both sites are on the C35 Middridge Road.  Not only would these two sites benefit from the very long awaited upgrading of the C35 but also the new housing development in Shildon next to Middridge  as motorists from there use the C35 to access the A1M and other major roads.
There is planning permission for executive housing on Woodham Golf Course which I am given to believe will involve work on the C35 and an improved roundabout to facilitate  improved and safer access to Middridge Lane and Burnhill Way.  The upgrading of the C35  would also improve the infrastructure for the existing estates on the western side of town giving them better access to the A167, the A1M and the A689 which is the nearest route for the east coast for Newtonians and road users from the industrial estate.  This could also help relieve the congestion on the A167 and help traffic capacity issues both of which are stated outcomes by the DCC.  Anyone who frequently uses the C35 will be very aware of the volume of traffic using the road to access or leave the industrial estate.
This road was built for tractors and other farm vehicles not for large lorries etc.  Upgrading this road would make it safer for all users and again help further alleviate congestion on the A167.
The golf course proposed housing would bring no benefit, other than Council Tax, to the DCC as DCC do not own the golf course.  The sale of Eldon Whinns  will benefit the DCC as it is their land gifted to them when the Aycliffe Development Corporation came to an end but I doubt if the sale of this land would result in sufficient funds to upgrade the C35 but it may go some way to paying for the new roundabout included in the plan..
If this Government grant is for Newton Aycliffe then Newton Aycliffe should benefit from the sale of the Copelaw site and any money made from the sale should be put back into Newton Aycliffe which would have a significant impact on the economic growth of the town especially as the site will be enhanced by the grant.
To the best of my recollection this did not happen with the Avenue School buildings site.  Yes, we did get a land to develop a lovely park but that was previously playing fields for the school before it was closed down.  This being the case it cost DCC nothing and our Town Council is responsible for the upkeep paid for by our Town’s precept.
Could I ask if our County Councillors are going to fight to keep the monetary benefits, direct or indirect, from this multimillion pound grant actually in Newton Aycliffe or are they going to allow the profits from the sale of land to disappear up to Durham as they seemed to do with the Avenue School site?  Could they also keep us updated on progress and if the money from Copelaw is not ploughed back into Newton Aycliffe we need them to tell us exactly where it is being spent.
A.Bergg (Mrs)