In January 2020 the Parish Council discussed the on-going problems associated with quad and off-road bikes damaging the grassed area at Dodds Close.
As the land is owned and managed by Durham County Council a site meeting was held in March 2020 with representatives from the Parish Council, Durham County Council, the Police and Believe Housing.
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss ways to prevent vehicular access to the grassed areas at Dodds Close and prevent the continual damage to the grass caused by off-road bikes, quads and other vehicles. Various options to restrict all vehicular access to the area were considered which included fencing, boulders, anti-motorcycle barriers and additional tree and shrub planting.
Initially the most cost-effective option, to restrict access, was the installation of boulders along with anti-motorcycle barriers.
The Covid pandemic and restrictions imposed on the Parish Council deferred all work on the project until December 2020.
Due to the potential cost of the project and the fact the land did not belong to the Parish Council, Durham County Council, the Police, County Councillors and Believe Housing were asked to consider a financial contribution towards the project. External funding streams were also explored to assist with funding the project.
The Parish Council were made aware of Section 106 funding that was available for use in Wheatley Hill. Believe Housing also agreed to a financial contribution of £4,000 towards the project.
Hooped perimeter fencing had previously been considered, along with other options, but discounted on cost. It would however provide a softer more sympathetic look compared to boulders on such a large area of land. If the Parish Council could secure Section 106 funding, then hooped perimeter fencing was the preferred option.
Durham County Council provide a detailed cost of £33,932.04 plus VAT to supply and install hooped perimeter fencing. This included the installation of an anti-motorcycle barrier and a boom gate for machine access to maintain the land.
As the land was owned and managed by Durham County Council it was agreed that the application for Section 106 funding would be made by Durham County Council. This would overcome issues related to approval as the County Council were undertaking work on their own land and would obtain all the appropriate approvals.
At a site meeting held in April 2021 details of the project were finalised and it was agreed to install hooped perimeter fencing at Dodds Close, 1 anti-motorcycle barrier and a boom gate for machine access to maintain the land. The racecourse fencing around the Pit Wheel would also be removed and replaced with the same hooped fencing.
In May 2021 the Section 106 funding application to install the fencing at Dodds Close was approved. The total cost of the project was £33,932.04 plus VAT. £30,000 was funded from Section 106 money and £4,000 from Believe Housing. Work has started on site and should be complete by the end of October 2021.