EFFORTS to encourage people to enjoy the region’s green and pleasant land could lead to a jobs boost.
A new project aims to improve County Durham’s health, social life and economy by getting more people to spend time in green spaces and community woodlands.
The scheme is being led by Groundwork North East, in partnership with Natural England, the Forestry Commission and Durham County Council.
Shonah Dobson has been appointed to oversee the network of gardens, woodlands, green corridors, street trees, rivers and streams and open countryside that connect the county’s cities, towns and villages.
The “green infrastructure” specialist will be working closely with the county’s planning authority as well as communities and businesses to develop projects that will make Durham more attractive for residents and employers, building new links between where people live and where nature can be enjoyed.
In addition to improving people’s health, it is hoped the work will help attract more investment by employers, which in turn may create jobs and improve the quality of life for residents.
Shonah’s work will also focus on making “green infrastructure” part of the planning system which governs new developments and other forms of land use in the county.
It is hoped the issue can be incorporated into a range of services, including housing, transport, regeneration and neighbourhood support and develop projects that use the land to deal with climate change.
Her work will also link into other projects such as the Durham Heritage Coast Partnership, which stretches from Ryhope through East Durham and to Hartlepool.
It recently won the first ever national UK Landscape Award for its work in transforming County Durham’s coastline following the closure of the collieries.
She will also be involved in the Limestone Landscapes partnership, which will start delivering projects across Wearside and County Durham this spring thanks to a grant of almost £2million from the Heritage Lottery Fund.