Pupils pitch in to help improve run-down site

Pupils from Castletown Primary School, Sunderland helping to claer litter and other rubbish from around an old garage area in St. Margarets Avenue, Castltown, on Friday, with the help of l-r Bernard King of Sunderland North Business Community Business Centre, teacher Claire Richardson, Claire Hutchinson and Helen Cheetham of Groundwork North East.
Pupils from Castletown Primary School, Sunderland helping to claer litter and other rubbish from around an old garage area in St. Margarets Avenue, Castltown, on Friday, with the help of l-r Bernard King of Sunderland North Business Community Business Centre, teacher Claire Richardson, Claire Hutchinson and Helen Cheetham of Groundwork North East.
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A HANG-OUT for yobs is being transformed into a community garden as part of villagers’ efforts to tackle antisocial behaviour.

A massive regeneration project is under way in Castletown to help the former mining community get back on its feet.

An environmental charity is now working with schoolchildren and community stalwarts to turn a former garage site in St Margaret’s Avenue into a neighbourhood garden.

Community campaigner Denny Wilson said: “The land was originally space for council houses that were there, before they were privately sold. It was a space for people to put garages and things up, but it became really run down.

“We’ve been getting antisocial behaviour round there with young men coming round in cars, making a mess and causing nuisance.”

Mr Wilson said a resident named Jimmy Burnicle had been pushing for something to be done, and now environmental charity Groundwork North East has been drafted in to help.

The organisation, based in Sunniside, Sunderland, is working with children from Castletown Primary School to rework the area into a space the community can enjoy.

The project started in early spring with pupils helping to remove rubbish and clear up the site, before a second session planting bulbs.

Claire Hutchinson, a senior project office at Groundwork, said: “The afternoon was brilliant, the children really enjoyed themselves and worked really hard.

“Working alongside Breandan King from Sunderland North Community Business Centre (SNCBC), we have many more community and school events planned to improve the site, make it cleaner and nicer to be in for the local community, as well as increasing biodiversity and native species.”

Ms Hutchinson said children planted almost 200 bulbs and were looking forward to seeing their garden grow.

She said: “Children worked together in teams to plant bulbs such as gladioli, iris and anemone which will flower in summer and improve the appearance of the field whilst encouraging wildlife to the area.

“We are looking forward to continuing to come back to the field to run a variety of other events and to enjoy the flowers as they appear throughout the year. Well done, Castletown Primary School.”

The St Margaret’s Avenue project is the latest scheme in a series of revamps in Castletown recent years.

Run-down, arson-hit housing and allotments have been demolished and replaced with new homes. The Castletown Snooker Club has been revamped by its private owners into The Supa bar and community venue.

Other work is still planned, but residents were fed up with the amount of time it took for revamp work to start.

@PressBench