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livin Kirk Merrington Community Plan 2011-14

And

with the community at heart Revised March 2013


Equality and Diversity livin aims to ensure that Equality and Diversity lies at the heart of our business and allows our customers to access high quality services tailored to their individual diverse needs. It is our policy to provide access to services and employment equality to all, irrespective of age, race or ethnic origin, gender, marital or family status, religious or philosophical belief or political opinion, disability, nationality or sexual orientation. As part of our commitment we, and our working partners, aim to treat everyone as equal citizens and recognise, support and value the diversity of the communities in which they live. Contact Us Communities Team livin, Farrell House, Arlington Way DurhamGate, Spennymoor, Co Durham, DL16 6NL

0800 587 4538 (free from a landline) or 0300 111 2234 (low rate call from a mobile phone depending on your network)

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Community Ranking- Kirk Merrington Based on the intelligence contained within each Plan livin has been able to rank the local community based on; Bronze (potential), Silver (aspiring) or Gold (performing). This will enable us to see which communities require more immediate and intensive interventions whilst ensuring there are mechanisms in place to maintain Gold standards. Indicator Housing Market Affordability

Tenancy Turnover

Demand for livin housing

Average cost of repairs to livin properties

Long Term Unemployment1

Ranking SILVER

GOLD

SILVER

GOLD

BRONZE

(6 - 12 months) Average Household Income2

GOLD

Rental Debit

GOLD

Educational Attainment (5 GCSE’s Grade C & Above)

GOLD

Environmental Assessment

GOLD

Overall Community Ranking

GOLD

1,2

Data used to compile this ranking relates to the Middlestone Ward (including Byers Green and Kirk Merrington). Data collection limitations have restricted this information being available for Kirk Merrington only.

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Contents Page No. Section 1 1.1

1.2

Community profile

Demographics

7 8

1.1.1 Population – now and in the future

8

1.1.2 Religion and ethnicity

12

Housing

15

1.2.1 Housing tenure

15

1.2.2 Average house prices

16

1.2.3 Current supply and demand for housing

19

1.2.4 livin tenancy sustainment

22

1.2.5 Vacant/Abandoned properties

24

1.2.6 Future demand for housing

26

1.2.7 Average cost of repairs to livin properties

29

1.2.8 Average cost of improvement programmes for

29

livin properties 1.3

Crime and antisocial behaviour

31

1.4

Economy and employment

34

1.4.1 Economic activity

34

1.4.2 Jobseekers Allowance claimants

38

1.4.3 Department for Works and Pensions key

39

benefit claimants 1.4.4 Household income

39

1.4.5 Vehicle ownership and cost of travel

40

1.4.6 Rental debit in livin properties

41

1.5

Access to services and facilities

44

1.6

Health and wellbeing

47

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Page No. 1.7

Education and training

49

1.8

Reputation of the local area and community

52

cohesion 1.9

Local environment

52

Section 2

Community priorities

54

Section 3

Review of the community plan

55

Appendix 1 livin Strategic framework and regulatory

56

requirements

Appendix 2 Methodology

5

62


List of Figures Page No. Figure 1.1

Aerial overview of Kirk Merrington

7

Figure 1.2

Age profile of population in Kirk Merrington

8

Figure 1.3

Household profile for Kirk Merrington

9

Figure 1.4

Population projections for Durham County

10

Figure 1.5

Age pyramid projections for Durham County

11

Figure 1.6

Housing tenure in Kirk Merrington

15

Figure 1.7

Average house prices in DL16 7 and Durham County

17

Figure 1.8

livin stock in Kirk Merrington

19

Figure 1.9

Age profile of livin lead tenants in Kirk Merrington

19

Figure 1.10 livin properties available for let during the period

21

1 October 2009 to 30 September 2010 in Kirk Merrington Figure 1.11 livin tenancy sustainment within Kirk Merrington

23

Figure 1.12: Range of energy efficient measures that youths would

27

like to see in their future homes Figure 1.13 Middlestone Ward, Byers Green and Kirk Merrington

31

Police Beat Area Figure 1.14 Reported incidents of crime and antisocial behaviour in

32

Middlestone Ward during December 2010 to June 2011 Figure 1.15 Economic activity in Kirk Merrington

34

Figure 1.16 Occupation profile of 16 to 74 year olds in

36

Kirk Merrington Figure 1.17 Economic inactivity in Kirk Merrington

37

Figure 1.18 Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants in Kirk Merrington

38

Figure 1.19 Breakdown of persons residing in Kirk Merrington

39

claiming key DWP benefits Figure 1.20 Levels of Health within Kirk Merrington

47

Figure 1.21 Educational attainment within Kirk Merrington

49

Figure 1.22 Route of Environmental Assessment

53

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Section 1

Community Profile

Kirk Merrington is a rural village located within County Durham, 10 miles south of Durham City and 12 miles north of Darlington. It is thought that the name “Kirk” derives from the Celtic word for church, and “Merrington” from the old English words meaning “farmstead of the people of Merra” and “small town, or estate”. Archaeological finds indicate that the area has been inhabited as far back as the Neolithic and Bronze Age periods. Throughout the years the village has mainly supported itself by farming and work within the local coal mining industry. From its opening in 1835 through to closure in 1901, Tudhoe Iron Works provided employment for many residents in Kirk Merrington and the surrounding area. By 1911, mining was the main source of employment with collieries located at nearby Ferryhill, Mainsforth, Tudhoe, Whitworth and Page Bank. The closure of these collieries during the late nineteenth to mid twentieth century finally saw the demise of the mining industry within the area.

Figure 1.1: Aerial overview of Kirk Merrington Source: Ordnance Survey

Once part of the former “Sedgefield Borough”, Kirk Merrington is now served by the unitary authority of Durham County Council (DCC). The village is part of the Spennymoor Township and is served by Spennymoor Town Council. It is also part of the Spennymoor Area Action Partnership (AAP) which covers the areas of: Spennymoor, Middlestone Moor, Byers Green, Tudhoe, Croxdale, Sunderland Bridge and Hett.

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1.1

Demographics

1.1.1 Population – Now and in the Future The population of Kirk Merrington is approximately 739.

The population within the settlement of Kirk Merrington is approximately 739 (DCC Census settlement summary, 2001). 51% of the total population are male with the remaining 49% being female (Census, 2001, Lower Layer Super Output Area (LLSOA), KS01, 005B).

Population data indicates that Kirk Merrington has a diverse range of age groups. There is a high percentage (58.5%) of persons aged between 25 to 64 years old living in the village; this being significantly higher than the Durham County and North East averages. To facilitate good levels of economic activity within the area it is essential that a high percentage of the population are of working age and contributing to the local economy through employment or actively seeking work. There is a lower percentage of children aged 0 to 15 years (16.9%) and young persons aged 16 to 24 years (9.0%) living within the village when compared to the Durham County and North East averages. The population of residents aged 65 years or more (15.7%) remains in line with the Durham County and North East averages. 70 60

52.6

50

53.3

40

Kirk Merrington

% 30

Durham County 19.8

20

19.1 10 16.9

16.6 11.1 11.0 9.0

North East

16.5 58.5

15.7

0 Persons aged 0- Persons aged 15 16-24

Persons aged Persons aged 25-64 65 years or over

Figure 1.2: Age profile of population in Kirk Merrington Source: Census 2001, LLSOA, KS02, 005B

The main household types in Kirk Merrington consist of married couples with no dependent children (27.4%), followed by single person households (22.3%) and married couples with dependent children (20.6%) (Census 2001, LLSOA, KS20, 005B).

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The percentage of married households with no dependent children in Kirk Merrington is substantially higher than the averages for both Durham County (21.7%) and the North East (19.9%). There are also a higher percentage of married couples with children living in the village when compared to the Durham County (17.7%) and North East (16.9%) averages.

There are a high percentage of married couples with children living in Kirk Merrington when compared to the rest of Durham County.

There is a lower percentage of lone parent households (with dependents) when compared to Durham County (6.7%) and North East (7.4%) averages and a significantly lower percentage of single person households. This higher percentage of married couples and families living in the village may be attributed to the age profile within the village which indicates that 67.5% of residents are aged 16 to 64 years old. Married couple household with dependent child(ren) Married couple household with no dependent child(ren)

1.5% 0.0%

11.7% 20.6%

Cohabiting couple household with dependent child(ren) Cohabiting couple household with no dependent child(ren) Lone parent household with dependent child(ren)

22.3%

Lone parent household with no dependent child(ren) 27.4%

One person household Multi person household: All student

4.2% 4.2% 5.0% 3.1%

Multi person household: All other Multi person household: With dependent child(ren)

Figure 1.3: Household Profile for Kirk Merrington Source: Census 2001, LLSOA, KS20, 005B

Trend-based projections from DCC indicate that the countywide population will initially decline up until 2016 before increasing to an estimated total of 501,625 in 2026 (Strategic Housing Market Assessment, DCC, 2010). Figure 1.4 illustrates the actual population totals within Durham County for the period 1981 to 2007. Future

9


population figures up to the year 2026, as projected by DCC, are shown in pink on the graph.

2008-based projections: various trends for the overall population

555000 ONS Principal

550000 545000 540000 535000 530000 525000

Number

520000 515000 510000 505000

DCC Principal

500000

DCC NC

495000 490000 485000 480000

DCC Lower

475000

95%

actual

470000

anticipated

465000 2025

2023

2021

2019

2017

2015

2013

2011

2009

2007

2005

2003

2001

1999

1997

1995

1993

1991

1989

1987

1985

1983

1981

Figure 1.4: Population projections for Durham County Source: Durham County Strategic Housing Market Assessment, 2010

The late 1950’s through to the early 1970’s saw a steady rise in the number of births throughout the Country. The progression of this ‘baby boom’ period has caused, and will continue to cause, different challenges to the By 2026 the number of County’s population. Currently this generation falls persons in the entirely within the economically active age group “economically active” age (generally 16-64 years), but shortly will begin the group within Durham transition into retirement and will be the main driver County will total less than of an ageing population over the next 28 years. present. Increasing life expectancy will also contribute towards the County’s growing elderly population. DCC’s age pyramid (figure 1.5) highlights the expected increase in the 65 plus age group and a decline in the economically active age group. To facilitate good levels of economic activity within a community it is essential that a high percentage of the population are contributing to the local economy through employment or by actively seeking work. To encourage and attract an economically active population to reside in an area it is imperative for there to be a good supply of local sustainable jobs and affordable housing. 10


2008 based projections: the Age Pyramids for County Durham in 2008 and 2026 implied by the DCC and ONS projections ONS 2026

90+

ONS 2008

85-90

2026 DCC

80-84

2008 DCC

75-79 70-74

age groups

2 per. Mov. Avg. (2008 DCC) 2 per. Mov. Avg. (ONS 2008) 2 per. Mov. Avg. (2026 DCC) 2 per. Mov. Avg. (ONS 2026)

65-69 60-64 55-59 50-54 45-49 40-44 35-39 30-34 25-29 20-24 15-19 10-14 5-9 0-4

40000

30000

20000 year 2008

10000

0

10000

20000

30000

40000

year 2026

Figure 1.5: Age pyramid projections for Durham County Source: Durham County Council, Strategic Housing Market Assessment, 2010

Although Kirk Merrington does not currently have an ageing population there is a probability of this emerging over the next 20 to 30 years. There are currently a high percentage of persons aged between 25 to 64 years living in the village. During the forthcoming years this age group will continue their transition into retirement. If efforts are not made to continually encourage and attract younger households to the village through the provision of affordable and accessible housing and sustainable employment then it is likely that an ageing population will become prominent. An ageing population can result in decreasing levels of economic activity; this is turn can have a detrimental effect on sustainability and the local economy. DCC estimates indicate that in 2010 there were 206,281 households countywide. This number is expected to increase by 24.9% to a total of 257,651 households by 2030 (Strategic Housing Market Assessment, DCC, 2010). By 2030 single person households (including single pensioners) are expected to double (100.3% increase to 56,564); whereas two person households are only expected to increase by 18% to 14,087. Larger households of three persons or more, and those with a housing need of two bedroom properties or more, are expected to reduce by 19,281 (26.9%). This decrease in larger households, coupled with a significant increase in single person households, will have a major impact on the supply and demand of housing throughout the County.

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1.1.2 Religion and Ethnicity An understanding of the ethnic and religious structure of the local population enables livin to ensure that its services are equally accessible, responsive and tailored to the needs and requirements of all residents living within its local communities. It will also help livin ensure that any minority groups are consulted with during future research and intelligence gathering, and allows for consideration of any specific needs in relation to access for housing, health, and employability during the creation of each community’s key priorities and Local Offers. 2001 Census data indicated that the main religion in Kirk Merrington is Christianity (87.3%). 0.2% stated their religion to be Buddhism. The remaining percentage of the population stated they had no religion or did not provide details (Census, 2001, LLSOA, KS07, 005B). Ethnicity within the village predominantly consists of White British (98.2%). The remaining 1.8% of the population are from other ethnic backgrounds including Irish, Other white, Mixed white and black Caribbean, Black or Chinese (Census, 2001, LLSOA, KS06, 005B). Recent research conducted by DCC and NHS Darlington estimated that between 0.43% to 0.57% of Durham County’s population consists of people from Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Households (Renaissance Research, 2010). Further analysis of these figures is currently not possible due to a lack of further data and intelligence. DCC’s Gypsy, Roma and Traveller site at East Howle is the only permanent residential site within livin’s area of operation.

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Key Demographic Characteristics: 58.5% of residents in the community are aged 25 to 64 years. This is significantly higher than the Durham County average. 15.7% of residents in the community are aged 65 years or more. 27.4% of households consist of married couples with no dependent children and 20.6% of households consist of married couples with dependent children. The community predominately consists of couples and families with only 22.3% of households consisting of single persons. This is lower than the Durham County average (29.2%). County Council projections indicate that the number of single households will significantly increase over the coming years. Trend-based projections indicate that the Countywide population will increase to an estimated total of 501,625 in 2026 (DCC, 2010). Currently the majority of the countywide population fall within the “economically active� age group; however these residents will soon begin the transition in retirement and will be the main driver of an ageing population. 98.2% of residents are White British; with the remaining 1.8% being of Irish, Other White, Mixed white and black Caribbean, Black or Chinese ethnic origin.

The prominent religion in the community is Christianity (87.3%). What does this mean for livin? It is important that the available housing stock within the community is able to meet the housing demands of the current and future population. Currently the majority of households in Kirk Merrington consists of families and young couples; the majority of whom will have a housing need for larger sized quality homes with two bedrooms or more. To facilitate good levels of economic activity in a community it is essential that a high percentage of the population are contributing to the local economy through employment or actively seeking work. To achieve this it is important that efforts are made to continually attract and encourage younger households to move into the village through the provision of affordable and accessible housing, and sustainable local employment. In addition it is necessary for there to be a range of accessible services and support organisations within the local area to provide family centred support to these households over the coming years. livin owns a total of 8, one bedroom bungalows in Kirk Merrington. This is 57% of livin’s total housing stock in the community. The letting of bungalows is normally restricted to persons aged 60 or over, or those with a medical need. The remaining 13


6 (43%) properties owned by livin within the village are two and three bedroom houses which can be used to meet the housing need for couples and families. Demand for one bedroom bungalows is typically low throughout all of livin’s communities. There are no larger sized bungalows owned by livin within the village. Countywide there is currently a high demand for bungalows with two bedrooms or more. Analysis of population trends and future population projections expect this level of demand to continue for larger sized bungalows. However, consideration must be given to the forthcoming Welfare Reform and its potential for significantly increasing demand for smaller sized properties for persons under 65. To ensure the housing stock within the community will be able to meet current and future levels of demand it is necessary for livin to complete a comprehensive review of the provision and suitability of its current housing stock. An understanding of the ethnic and religious structure of the local population will enable livin to ensure that its services are equally accessible, responsive and tailored to the needs and requirements of all residents living within its local communities.

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1.2

Housing

1.2.1 Housing Tenure Kirk Merrington has a varied range of housing tenures. This is very important as a diverse mix of housing tenures will positively contribute towards making the village more sustainable by meeting the needs of a cross section of the population.

2.5% 0.0% 4.0% 0.0%

Owner Occupied: Owns outright Owner Occupied: Owns with a mortgage or loan

7.4% 35.4%

Owner occupied: Shared ownership Rented from: Local Authority - including livin Rented from: Housing Association / Registered Social Landlord

50.6%

Rented from: Private landlord or letting agency Rented from: Other

Figure 1.6: Housing Tenure in Kirk Merrington Source: Census, 2001, LLSOA, KS18, 005B

More than three quarters of residents living in Kirk Merrington own their properties, this being substantially higher than the County average of only 66.7%. 35.4% of residents own their property outright and 50.6% own their home through a mortgage or loan scheme. There are no households living in shared ownership properties.

86% of households in Kirk Merrington own their own home outright or through a mortgage or loan scheme.

A substantially lower percentage of social housing (7.4%) is located within the village, compared to the County average of 25.4%. Social housing consists of domestic properties which are owned by Registered Providers (RP’s) or the Local Authority. All social housing in Kirk Merrington that was previously owned by Sedgefield Borough Council is now owned and managed by livin. A substantially lower percentage (7.4%) of social housing is located in the community, compared to the County average of 25.4%. A high percentage of owner occupation and low percentage of socially rented properties within a community are typical characteristics of a rural village.

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There is a marginally lower than average percentage of households in Kirk Merrington living in privately rented properties (4%) when compared to the rest of the County (5%). The private rented sector has always played an important role in the housing market by offering accommodation for those households unable to access owner-occupation or socially rented housing. Tighter controls and restrictions on mortgages and financial lending are likely to place an even higher future demand on social housing from low income households or first time buyers. Those households unable to access social housing will be required to look to the private rented sector to meet their housing need, placing an even higher demand on this already limited sector. Generally, Kirk Merrington can be seen to exhibit an unbalanced housing market with a higher than average percentage of owner occupation and lower than average percentage of social housing and privately rented properties. Again these characteristics are typical of a small rural village. There is a local Gypsy and Traveller site located at East Howle located approximately 4 miles from Kirk Merrington. The site is provided by DCC and has 25 permanent pitches. It is only permanent site in the local area for the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community. 1.2.2 Average House Prices Land Registry data for January to March 2010 indicates that the average house price in DL16 7 (covering Kirk Merrington, part of Spennymoor, Middlestone Moor and Byers Green) was £132,138. This price is nearly £35,000 higher than the Durham County average of £97,556 for the same period (Land Registry, 2011). Terraced house prices for DL16 7 for this period were on average £78,178. The average price of a terraced property in Durham County for this period was £60,742. It has not been possible to obtain individual house price data for Kirk Merrington alone. It is recognised that the differing affluences within the areas included in the postcode DL16 7 will have a bearing on the local house prices for each individual community. Information obtained from the Right Move website in August 2011, indicates the current prices of properties within Kirk Merrington to range from £64,950 for a terraced property to £300,000 for a detached property. Approximately two thirds of the properties for sale in Kirk Merrington at this time are priced at over £130,000.

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£250,000 £195,541

£200,000

£178,711 £132,138

£150,000

Kirk Merrington (Postcode DL167)

£115,022 £100,000

£50,000

£78,178 £61,125 £73,445

£94,403

£97,556

Durham County

£60,742

£0

Figure 1.7: Average House Prices in DL16 7 and Durham County (January to March 2010) Source: Land Registry, 2011

The County Durham Strategic Housing Market Assessment (DCC, 2010) assessed affordability between lower quartile house prices and lower quartile earnings. Based on these figures buyers would need to borrow 4.6 times their income (based on lower quartile earnings) to purchase a property (based on lower quartile house prices) in the area of the former Sedgefield Borough. For Kirk Merrington buyers will need to borrow 5.9 times their own income to purchase a property within the area of DL16 7 (covering Kirk Merrington, part of Spennymoor, Middlestone Moor and Byers Green). This has resulted in a community ranking of SILVER. However, intelligence indicates that this figure could be slightly higher given current house prices from Right Move. Full details of the methodology for this ranking can be found in Appendix 2. During livin’s consultation there were concerns from residents about the affordability of property in the village for first time buyers as a result of reduced mortgage products and financial lending. The cost of buying a home within the community is less affordable when compared to the County multiplier of 5.54, but more affordable when compared nationally (6.28). Residents perceive a need for the provision of “affordable” homes within the village that would allow first time buyers and young families access to the housing market. Although there are a number of current Government incentives available nationwide to help first time property buyers these are only available on new build properties. There are currently only two housing developments within the local area which are eligible for buyers to obtain help from Government schemes. A new scheme called 17


First Buy was introduced in September 2011. This scheme will be jointly funded by the Government and house builders and will provide a 20% loan to top up the first time buyer’s own deposit of 5%. This will allow them to take out a mortgage for 75% of the property’s value. The loans will be free of charge for the first five years and must be repaid when the property is resold. The funds will then be recycled to fund more homes in the scheme. Current HomeBuy and FirstBuy schemes can be found in nearby Spennymoor Town and Ferryhill Station. Key Housing Market Characteristics: The community has a wide range of housing tenures; this is important as a diverse mix will contribute towards making an area more sustainable by meeting the need of a cross section of the population. 86% of households own their property outright, or through a mortgage or loan scheme. The community has a substantially lower percentage of social housing (7%) when compared to the rest of Durham County. Only 4% of properties in the community are privately rented properties. The private rented sector plays an important part in any local housing market as it is able to offer accommodation for those unable to access owner occupation or social housing. Residents perceive a need for “affordable” housing within the village to enable first time buyers and young families access to the housing market.

What does this mean for livin? livin only has a small stake of the housing market within this community given the lower than average percentage of social housing in the village. The private rented sector in the village is also comparatively small. Despite the small percentage of social housing within the village it is important to recognise that livin will still be required to play a role in balancing the local housing market within the community by making efforts to help meet housing need, as identified in DCC’s Housing Strategies. livin needs to consider the health of the local housing market and the ability of households to meet their own housing need. Lack of access to the owner occupier and the private rented sectors can increase pressure on livin’s housing stock, particularly for single households, young couples and families.

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1.2.3 Current Supply and Demand for Housing livin Housing Stock livin currently owns and manages a total of 14 properties in Kirk Merrington (livin, 2011). Ownership of these properties transferred to livin in March 2009 as part of a stock transfer from the now disbanded Sedgefield Borough Council. Since March 2009 there has been one property within Kirk Merrington purchased from livin through the “Right to Buy” scheme.

livin own 14 properties in the community; 57% of these are one bedroom bungalows and 43% are two and three bedroom houses.

These 14 properties include one bedroom bungalows, and two and three bedroom houses. livin currently do not own any two or three bedroom bungalows or four bedroom properties within the village. Four bedroom properties are typically found in livin’s larger communities, including Newton Aycliffe and Spennymoor. Any households requiring a larger sized bungalow or a four bedroom property may be required to consider accessing owner occupation or the private rented sector. If these households are unable to afford owner occupation and are not able to find a suitable private let within the village this will result in them being required to move away from the community to meet their housing need. A breakdown of livin’s stock in Kirk Merrington and the age profile of lead tenants can be seen in the following tables: Property Types 1 Bed Bungalows 2 Bed Houses 3 Bed Houses Total

8 4 2 14

Figure 1.8: livin stock in Kirk Merrington (as at 11 July 2011) Source: livin, 2011

Age Range (based on age of lead tenant) 16-20 years 21-30 years 31-40 years 41-50 years 51-60 years 61-70 years 71-80 years 81 years or more Unknown (Void, non livin managed) Total Figure 1.9: Age profile of livin lead tenants in Kirk Merrington (as at 11 July 2011) Source: livin, 2011

19

0 0 2 1 1 3 2 5 0 14


Currently 57% of livin’s housing stock in Kirk Merrington consists of one bedroom bungalows; with the remaining 43% of stock consisting of two and three bedroom houses. It is important that stock levels within a community are able to meet current and future demands for housing. Within Kirk Merrington livin own no larger sized bungalows and only a small number of larger sized houses. Together with low levels of turnover this will see many households having to consider other housing options. An inability to access owner-occupation, social housing or the private rented sector may force many households, including couples and families, to move away from the village. As the majority of persons within these households are likely to be economically active their move from the village has the potential to see a downturn in the area’s economy and the level of sustainability within the community. The provision of bungalows within an area would normally be expected to help meet the demands of an ageing population, or those wishing to remain in mainstream housing through their later years. livin’s bungalow stock within Kirk Merrington is small and consists of only one bedroom bungalows. As demand throughout livin’s communities for one bedroom bungalows is typically low there is the potential for these property types to not meet future housing demand within the area. However there will be a need for livin to consider the forthcoming Welfare Reform and its potential for again increasing a demand for smaller sized properties for persons under 65. livin Housing Demand, Need and Turnover Since 1 October 2009 livin has allocated properties through a Choice Based Lettings (CBL) scheme, known as Durham Key Options (DKO). DKO is a partnership of local housing providers across County Durham. CBL allows applicants to place an interest, or “bid”, for the type of property they require based on their circumstances.

There are currently 3 households from Kirk Merrington registered with Durham Key Options in statutory housing need.

Analysis of livin’s housing register in February 2011 found there to be 12 active applications for housing received from residents already living in Kirk Merrington. 3 of these applicants were banded by DKO as Bands A to C+ due to them having a statutory housing need. This housing need may be linked to the inability of some households to obtain a mortgage or loan due to current lending restrictions, or restricted access to the private rented and social housing sectors due to low stock levels within the village. The remaining 9 applicants do not have a statutory need for housing. During the period 1 October 2009 to 30 September 2010, there was only one livin property available for let in Kirk Merrington making livin’s stock turnover within the

20


community 7%. This is a lower than average turnover when compared to the total turnover of all livin housing stock (9%) for the same period.

One Bedroom Bungalow

Two Bedroom House

Three Bedroom House

1

0

0

Figure 1.10: livin properties available for let during the period 1 October 2009 to 30 September 2010 in Kirk Merrington Source: livin, 2011

Based on national benchmarking figures provided by HouseMark this low level of stock turnover has resulted in the community being ranked as GOLD for Tenancy Turnover. Full details of the methodology used for this ranking can be found in Appendix 2. To maintain sustainability within a community there will always be a need for some level of tenancy turnover. It is important that turnover does not reach a level where it becomes detrimental to housing demand, the community’s reputation or the local economy. Likewise, levels of turnover must not be as low as to restrict access to social housing for those households with a housing need. It is however important to consider that a low level of turnover in a community with limited social housing stock can result in higher demand being placed on the private rented sector, or households being required to move away from the area to access affordable or social housing. Countywide there is a high demand for two bedroom During the 1 October properties and there is currently an increased demand 2009 to 30 September for bungalows with two bedrooms or more (County 2010 there was low Durham Strategic Housing Market Assessment, 2010). tenancy turnover in Comparison of the current population within the village Kirk Merrington. to DCC’s forecasted population for 2028 expects this trend to continue. Within Kirk Merrington, livin do not own any bungalows with two or more bedrooms, and only own a limited amount of two and three bedroom houses, all of which have infrequent turnover. A low turnover of all property types and limited availability of larger sized properties within Kirk Merrington will require those households with a housing need for these property types to consider other housing options. For many households, including first time buyers or those on a low income, buying a home is not a viable option leading to increased demand on the private rented sector. High market rents or a lack of availability of larger properties within this housing sector may ultimately force some households to move out of the local area in search of suitable accommodation. There were only two bids received for the one bedroom bungalow which became available for let during 1 October 2009 to 30 September 2010. However, it is important to note that this property had previously been adapted to meet the needs 21


of a disabled tenant, therefore potentially affecting the level of demand and number of bids received. Although the level of demand for this property type within Kirk Merrington cannot be fully determined from this one property, lower demand for one bedroom bungalows is typical throughout all of livin communities. It is important to remember that policy decisions and legislation will also affect the levels of demand for particular house types. High demand for two bedroom houses could be due to need and eligibility from several household groups including families, couples, and single persons whereas three and four bedroom properties will only be eligible for larger families to let, and bungalows for older persons or those with a medical need. If after one advertising cycle with DKO a bungalow is unable to be let, livin may look to consider lowering the age restriction to increase eligibility for more applicants. It is therefore important that lettings policies are regularly reassessed to reflect the supply of housing and the current levels of demand with the aim of promoting sustainability within an area. During 1 October 2009 to 30 September 2010 there were no “Hard to let” properties in Kirk Merrington. Hard to let properties are defined as properties that have been advertised in a CBL bidding cycle three times or more with DKO. “There is a demand for Based on the number of bids received per property; affordable housing the absence of hard to let properties and 23% of within the village.” livin’s housing applicants indicating Kirk Merrington to Resident from Kirk be an area of preference the community have been Merrington ranked as SILVER for demand for livin Housing. Full details of the methodology used for this ranking can be found in Appendix 2. During livin’s consultation events there were concerns expressed by residents about the affordability of property within the village. Residents are concerned that the cost of property within Kirk Merrington and the current restrictions on mortgages and financial lending are resulting in many first time buyers being unable to access the housing market. Residents also commented on the small number of properties owned by livin within the village and how this limits access to social housing for local households, specifically families and young couples. 1.2.4 livin Tenancy Sustainment There is a high percentage of long term tenancy sustainment within properties owned by livin in Kirk Merrington. This is reflected in the low level of turnover of housing stock within the village.

22

50% of tenants who have a livin tenancy in this community have lived in their current home for 10 years or more.


The limited number of properties owned by livin within Kirk Merrington combined with high levels of tenancy sustainment is resulting in restricted access to social housing for local residents. As at 13 July 2011, 43% of livin tenants within Kirk Merrington have lived in their current home for a period of between 0 to 4 years, 7% of tenants for a period of 5 to 9 years and 50% of tenants have lived in their current home for 10 years or more. The majority of livin tenants that have lived in their property for 10 years or more reside in larger sized properties. The majority of livin tenants that have lived in their property for 10 years or more reside in two and three bedroom properties.

0-4 years 43% 5-10 years

50%

10 years or more

7% Figure 1.11: livin tenancy sustainment within Kirk Merrington Source: livin, July 2011 (not including void properties or non livin managed properties)

In June 2011, livin and other partner agencies participated in a Youth Forum event with local schools and Spennymoor Extended Services. The Forum involved a number of young people aged 10 to 13 years predominantly from Spennymoor, Byers Green, Kirk Merrington, and Middlestone Moor and was utilised to obtain views and opinions about their communities, housing and lifestyles. During the event, 52.4% of youths stated they were happy living at their current home. From a total of 42 youths surveyed during the event, 33.3% have lived in their current home for up to four years, and 38.1% have lived in their current home for 10 years or more. Community sustainability requires an appropriate level of tenancy turnover. High levels of tenancy sustainment within social housing can be for a multitude of reasons. Although some may be favourable it is important to ensure that tenants are not remaining in their current home due to restrictions in their housing options (i.e. inability to purchase their own property), or if looking for a more suitable property to meet their housing need, financial restrictions around the cost of relocating. High levels of tenancy sustainment can often be found in areas where there are a number of properties that are used to house older households or those with medical need. As increasing numbers of older households are now making the decision to remain in mainstream housing through their later years rather than move into 23


specialised accommodation it is expected that tenancy sustainment will place an even higher level of demand on the availability of social housing within Kirk Merrington in the future. High levels of tenancy sustainment may also result in housing stock being under occupied. Larger households may over time reduce in size due to children growing up and leaving home, relationship breakdowns or bereavement. In addition to a detrimental effect on the level of housing demand within a community there may be financial implications to the tenant as a result of the Government’s forthcoming Welfare Reform which aims to reduce benefit payments for households that are under occupying their property (excluding those over 65 years). 1.2.5 Vacant/Abandoned Properties

During December 2010, a low percentage of properties within the village were vacant / abandoned.

High levels of void or empty properties can be a strong indicator of low demand for housing within an area. Kirk Merrington has a low percentage of housing stock consisting of empty and/or abandoned properties, indicating a good overall level of demand.

Information obtained from DCC’s Council Tax database in July 2011 indicates there to be 8 possible properties that have been empty and/or abandoned (this figure may include properties that are currently for sale) for a period of six months or more within Kirk Merrington. Based on a total of 736 domestic dwellings (Census, 2001, LLSOA, KS16, 005B) in Kirk Merrington and North Close this is only 1.1% of the total stock. Data collection limitations have restricted further detailed analysis of this information.

24


Key Supply and Demand Characteristics: livin currently own 14 properties within the community; 57% are one bedroom bungalows and 43% are two and three bedroom houses. There are no larger sized bungalows or four bedroom properties owned by livin in the community. During 1 October 2009 to 30 September 2010, only 1 property became available for let; making tenancy turnover within the community 7%. During 1 October 2009 to 30 September 2010 there was no turnover of two or three bedroom houses. Households requiring these property types may be forced to access the private rented sector or move out of the village to meet their housing need. Demand is low for one bedroom bungalows in the community. livin lettings policy normally restricts the letting of bungalows to persons aged 60 years or more, unless there is a medical need. Local residents are concerned about the affordability of properties within the village and access to the housing market for first time buyers. They feel that the limited availability of social housing within the community is resulting in local households moving out of the area to meet their housing need.

50% of livin tenants living within the community have sustained their tenancy for a period of 10 years or more. What does this mean for livin? Demand for livin housing in this community has been ranked as Silver. It is essential that this ranking is maintained to this level or enhanced to Gold over the coming year. However the identification and development of interventions to increase demand will be challenging due to low levels of stock turnover and the limited amount of stock owned by livin in the village. The projection of an ageing population throughout the County over the coming years, in conjunction with the expected continuing level of demand for properties with two bedrooms or more, highlights a clear need for livin to review its provision of housing stock to meet the current and future housing needs of the local population. It is important that to maintain sustainability within the village there is a good supply of accessible and affordable family homes. livin own a small number of two and three bedroom properties within the village with none of these being bungalows. Countywide there is an increased demand for two bedroom bungalows, and based on DCC’s future population projection it is expected that this trend will continue. Although the level of demand for one bedroom 25


bungalows within Kirk Merrington cannot be fully determined at this time due to low levels of turnover, demand for this property type is typically low throughout all of livin’s communities. This highlights a need for livin to conduct a stock options appraisal and review of its housing provision for older persons. Any stock appraisals conducted by livin must consider the forthcoming Welfare Reform and its potential for increasing demand for smaller sized properties for persons under 65. Community sustainability requires an appropriate level of tenancy turnover. It is important that consideration be given to the reasons behind high levels of sustainment to ensure residents are not being forced to remain in their current home due to restrictions in their housing options or financial circumstances. 1.2.6 Future Demand for Housing Population and household projections for a community can be utilised by a number of different service providers to predict the future level of demand on their services. In conjunction with other social, economic, and environmental indicators these projections may be used to forecast the demand and need for housing in a community. DCC have conducted a Strategic Housing Market Assessment (DCC, 2010) which can be utilised by RP’s to help determine the expected level of demand for housing over the coming years and assist them in developing future housing strategies. The following population and household projections are based on this assessment. It is expected that the vast majority of older persons will decide to remain in their own homes with mainstream housing providing the primary means of meeting this demand. Local RP’s will be required to support this by providing extra support services and help for people to adapt their homes to meet their changing needs. Some vulnerable groups will require support or bespoke housing solutions and it is expected that there will be a sharp growth in demand for specialist housing projects for persons aged 75 years or older during the coming years. The decisions of older households to remain in their homes will influence the supply of housing available for other household groups. As a result it is important that local housing providers recognise the potential opportunities for supporting older households to downsize, thus releasing a supply of larger family homes for other household groups. In recognition of this increased demand on mainstream housing the Northern Housing Consortium (NHC) published a guide to Age Friendly Communities in the North: People and Places 2020. This publication is the result of a two year project involving consultation with local communities and key Consortium members, and focuses on building an evidence base to demonstrate the significant impact housing can have on the physical and mental health and wellbeing of older people. 26


During the Youth Forum livin asked local youths about their aspirations for their future homes. There are a high percentage of youths that wish to continue to live within the local area when they move to their own home. 45.2% of youths indicated a desire to continue to live in nearby communities including Spennymoor Town, Chilton, Ferryhill, and Middridge. During consultation local residents did not provide any comments relating to energy saving measures or increasing energy efficiency within their homes. However, discussion with local youths found them to have a good knowledge of the measures available to increase energy efficiency within their future homes. More than a third (38.1%) stated that they would like to see solar power used to power their future homes, and just under a quarter (21.4%) would like the energy in their future home to be generated through wind turbines. Energy Efficiency Measure

Solar Power Composting Equipment Electric car charging point Under floor heating Wind Turbine Grassed Roofs Thermal Energy Triple Glazing Water butts

% of youths indicating this measure to be part of their future home (able to indicate more than one answer) 38.1% 9.5% 26.2% 21.4% 21.4% 11.9% 9.5% 2.4% 9.5%

Figure 1.12: Range of energy efficient measures that youths would like to see in their future homes

There was increased knowledge about the use and benefits of electric vehicles with 26.2% stating that they would like to see electric car charging points provided in their future homes.

27


Key Future Demand Characteristics: An ageing population, and fall in the number of persons economically active by 2026 will place an increased demand on fiscal, housing and health provisions. By 2030 the County is expected to see:   

single person households increase by 100.3% two person households increase by only 18% three person households or more decrease by 26.9%

The majority of older persons will want to remain in their own homes through their senior years. This will place an increased demand on mainstream and social housing. Increased future demand is expected for support services for vulnerable groups, and a need for bespoke housing solutions or specialist housing projects for persons aged 75 years or more. It is important that livin’s housing stock is able to meet the future demands of an ageing population. . What does this mean for livin? livin’s Development and Asset Management strategies must take into account future population projections and consider the expected demand for social housing within the community to ensure future housing stock will meet the needs and demands of local residents. livin will also have to consider its current housing provision and how it will meet the need of an increasing elderly population whilst also finding bespoke solutions to meet the individual needs of vulnerable groups. Anticipation of an ageing population and typically low demand for livin’s one bedroom bungalows, and sheltered housing schemes in other communities, highlights the requirement for livin to review its current provision of housing stock for older persons. There may be potential opportunities for housing providers to support older households to downsize thus releasing a supply of larger family homes for other household groups. This is especially important in smaller rural villages such as Kirk Merrington where there are limited numbers of larger sized social housing properties. The current economic climate and an increasing awareness surrounding the benefits of installing energy efficient measures within homes may over the coming years begin to influence demand for livin’s properties. This will require livin to investigate the potential benefits of installing a range of energy efficiency measures within its current properties and future developments. In addition to helping reduce the consumption of energy in livin homes these measures may also see cost saving benefits for tenants through reduced energy bills.

28


1.2.7 Average cost of Repairs to livin properties The repair and maintenance of livin’s properties is essential to ensure that they remain in excellent condition and to the high standards expected by tenants. Kirk Merrington has been awarded a ranking of GOLD for average repair costs per property when compared to other livin communities. Full details of the methodology used for this ranking can be found in Appendix 2. During 1 April 2009 to 31 March 2010 livin, together with its repairs and maintenance partner Mears, completed 38 repairs (including gas safety) to its properties in Kirk Merrington. 29% of these repairs were emergency repairs which required immediate attention. During 2009/2010, livin’s average repair cost per property in Kirk Merrington was £480.61, during 2010/2011 this average cost increased to £494.06 per property. The average repairs cost (including gas safety) per property across all of livin’s 19 communities for the period 1 April 2009 to 31 March 2010 was £604.36. During 1 April 2010 to 31 March 2011, the number of completed repairs to livin properties in Kirk Merrington increased to 39. 28% of these repairs were emergency repairs which required immediate attention. 1.2.8 Average cost of Improvement Programmes for livin properties Over the next few years, and as part of promises to tenants, livin is investing over £100 million in a rolling programme of modernisation and improvements to the properties that it owns. The modernisation and improvement programme that livin is carrying out on its properties is to a much higher standard of works than that of the Government's Decent Homes Standard. The improvements that livin are completing include:      

New Kitchens New Bathrooms Central Heating Replacement Electrical Works Internal and External Door Replacement Roofing works

During a programme of works not all of livin’s properties will receive all of the above improvements at the same time. There are a number of factors that determine which improvement works are completed at a property during forthcoming programmes in each community.

29


For example some properties may only receive new internal and external doors, whereas others may be due new internal and external doors plus a replacement kitchen and bathroom. A number of improvement programmes have already been completed in Kirk Merrington with internal modernisations and improvements made to all 14 properties during the period 1 April 2009 to 31 March 2010 at an average cost of ÂŁ4,706 per property. The majority of these properties received a new heating system and internal/external doors. During 2011/2012, livin will further improve 12 of its properties in Kirk Merrington at an expected average cost of ÂŁ7,946 per property. During 2011/12, livin expects to carry out further internal improvements to its properties in Kirk Merrington at an expected average cost of ÂŁ7,946 per property. These improvements will include a new kitchen and bathroom and full electrical rewire. What does this mean for livin? The community has a low repair cost per property resulting in a ranking of Gold. Although the number of repairs marginally increased from 2009/2010 to 2010/2011, the percentage of emergency repairs decreased. Just under one third of the repairs required to livin properties in the community during 2009/2010 and 2010/2011 were emergencies. Investigation into the causes of these repairs may be considered in an attempt to minimise the amount of emergency repairs required within our properties. It should however be noted that during 2011/2012 livin will be completing improvement programmes within Kirk Merrington resulting in 12 of its properties receiving a new kitchen, bathroom and a full electrical rewire. It is expected that as a result of this improvement programme there will be a reduction in the cost of repair costs for these properties during the coming years.

30


1.3

Crime and Antisocial Behaviour

The village of Kirk Merrington is located in the Police Beat area of Middlestone Ward, Byers Green and Kirk Merrington. The nearest staffed Police station is located in the neighbouring town of Spennymoor.

Figure 1.13: Middlestone Ward, Byers Green and Kirk Merrington Police Beat Area Source: Police.uk

From the 1 December 2010 to 30 June 2011 Durham Constabulary reported the level of crime and disorder within the Middlestone Ward to be “Average” when compared to the rest of the Police Beat Wards for England and Wales. During this period there were a total of 20 reported incidents of crime and antisocial behaviour in Kirk Merrington (Police.uk, 2011). Of this total 70% were in relation to antisocial behaviour, 15% were in relation to “other” crimes (including criminal damage, shoplifting and drugs) and 15% were in relation to vehicle crime. During December 2010 to June 2011 the level of crime within Middlestone Ward, Byers Green and Kirk Merrington was “Average”. (Police.uk, 2011) livin’s Support and Intervention Team received no complaints of nuisance or antisocial behaviour occurring within Kirk Merrington during the period 1 April 2010 to 31 March 2011.

31


Number of Reported Incidents

6 5

5

5

Burglary

4

ASB

3

Robbery 2 2

2

2 1 1 0

1

1

1

Vehicle Crime Violent Crime Other

Figure 1.14: Reported incidents of crime and antisocial behaviour in Middlestone Ward during December 2010 to June 2011 Source: Police.uk, 2011

Recent consultation completed by DCC (Residents Survey, 2010) highlighted that within the Spennymoor AAP area (including Byers Green) 2% of residents feel unsafe in their local communities during the day. The AAP’s with the highest fear of safety during the daytime were Bishop Auckland and Shildon, and 4Together, both with a percentage of 3%. 12% of Spennymoor AAP residents stated they felt unsafe in their local area during the evening, this being the 5th highest out of all of the County’s 14 AAP’s. The AAP with the highest fear of safety during the evening was Bishop Auckland and Shildon with 15%. Countywide, 42% of residents completing the survey indicated the main reason for feeling unsafe in their local community is due to youths congregating on the street. During livin’s consultation event there were no concerns raised by residents about antisocial behaviour being caused by youths in the village. This corresponds with information from the community’s Police Beat Team, confirming no current problems with youths causing nuisance or antisocial behaviour in the community. Residents do however feel that the village lacks recreational facilities and activities for children and young persons. Many residents expressed concerns about increased incidents of vehicles speeding through the village and in areas surrounding the local primary school. Information gained from the Youth Forum in June 2011 found issues relating to crime and antisocial behaviour in their local community to be of significant importance to local youths.

32


Key Crime and Antisocial Behaviour Characteristics: For the period 01 December 2010 to 30 June 2011 the level of crime and disorder within the Middlestone Ward is considered by the Police to be “Average” when compared to the rest of England and Wales. During the same period there were 20 reported Police incidents of crime and antisocial behaviour in Kirk Merrington.   

70% of reported incidents were in respect of antisocial behaviour 15% of incidents related to other crimes, such as criminal damage, shoplifting and drugs 15% of incidents related to vehicle crime

During the period 1 April 2010 and 31 March 2011, livin’s Support and Intervention Team received no complaints of nuisance or antisocial behaviour. Consultation found local residents are concerned about vehicles speeding through the Village and in the area surrounding the local primary school. A recent survey found that 12% of residents living in the Spennymoor AAP area felt unsafe in their communities during the evening. What does this mean for livin? It is important that livin maintains its commitment to providing a robust and responsive service for dealing with incidents of nuisance and antisocial behaviour in local communities. livin is aware that partnership working is essential when addressing and dealing with crime and antisocial behaviour in its communities. As such livin will continue to actively work with local residents and community groups, the Police, DCC and other agencies through the attendance of staff members at PACT meetings, Residents meetings and other local events to promote it services and offer help and support to victims of nuisance or antisocial behaviour. livin is already a contributing partner to the Safe Durham Partnership and plays an important role in supporting the partnership to help people feel safer within their local communities.

33


1.4

Economy and Employment

1.4.1 Economic Activity “Economic activity relates to persons aged 16 to 74 years who are in employment, or actively seeking employment and are available to start work within 2 weeks.� (Source: Census, 2001) During 2001, 68.2% of residents in Kirk Merrington were economically active; this is significantly higher than the County average of 60.2%. (Census, 2001) Of this total economic activity 45.4% were in full time employment and 10% in part time employment. 8.4% of persons were self-employed; this being considerably higher than the Durham County average of 5.4%. It is acknowledged that as a result of the current economic climate the level of economic activity within the community may have changed since this data was collated in 2001. The 2007 Indices of Deprivation indicates that in relation to employment, 39.6% of residents living in the Spennymoor AAP area (including Kirk Merrington) are deemed to be in the top 10% nationally deprived (Communities and Local Government (CLG), 2007). This is higher than the Durham County average where 32.2% of residents are deemed to be in the top 10% nationally deprived. 50 45 40

38.5

35 Kirk Merrington

30 % 25

Durham County

20 15

10.7

10 5

5.4 45.4

10.0

8.4

3.7 2.8

1.6

1.8

0 Employees Full-time

Employees Part-time

Self Unemployed Employed

Full time Student

Figure 1.15: Economic Activity in Kirk Merrington Source: Census, 2001, LLSOA, KS09A, 005B

The availability of local employment was a key issue highlighted by residents during consultation. Residents reported that a lack of local employment and recent redundancies from local businesses have placed an increased requirement for residents to travel out of the area to gain sustainable employment. This necessity to travel is currently being hampered by rising fuel costs and the affordability of car 34


ownership; together with an increased reliance on what is seen by residents to be a restricted public transport service to surrounding areas. The proposed retail and commercial developments at the DurhamGate site at Spennymoor and the Hitachi factory in Newton Aycliffe will hopefully help to boost economic activity and employment opportunities for local residents. The importance of sustainable employment and enhanced job prospects within the local area was acknowledged at Spennymoor AAP’s Forum Event in November 2010 where forum members voted these issues as one of the top three priorities for the AAP for 2011/12. As a result “Employment and Job Prospects” is a Spennymoor AAP priority for 2011/12 and will be incorporated into its two other priorities of “Provision for Children and Teenagers” and “Town Centre Regeneration”. Census data indicates that residents within Kirk Merrington are employed in a wide range of different occupations (Census, 2001, LLSOA, KS12A, 005B) 40.7% of residents are employed in skilled roles as Professionals, Managers, or in Associate Professional and Technical roles. There are a substantially higher percentage of residents employed in these occupations when compared to the County average (32.9%). High levels of employment within these occupations are reflected in the high percentage of residents (17.2%) in the village that hold an educational qualification at levels 4 to 5 (equivalent to degree or professional level). During 2001, 40.7% of residents in Kirk Merrington were employed as Professionals, Managers, or in Associate Professional and Technical roles. (Census, 2001) The percentage of residents in Kirk Merrington employed in a skilled trade (14.7%) is higher than the County average (12.7%). There are lower percentages of residents employed in lower skilled occupations (20.1%) including elementary (labourers, kitchen assistants, and bar staff) and plant and machine processing roles. Over the past ten years the plant and machine processing industry has been one of the hardest hit resulting in many large scale local employers such as Black and Decker, Flymo, Thorn and Electrolux relocating or ceasing to trade. As the majority of residents within Kirk Merrington are not employed within these industries it is expected that a good level of economic activity will have been maintained within the village since this data was gathered in 2001. During the period 2006 to 2008, the Spennymoor AAP area was home to 4.1% of businesses that were operating within Durham County. 81.4% of these businesses employed less than 10 employees, whilst 18.5% employed 11 or more employees (Annual Business Inquiry, 2008). The largest industrial estate within the local area is located at Meadowfield, with smaller estates located at Willington, Bowburn, Chilton and Spennymoor. However, 35


development is currently under way on DurhamGate at Spennymoor, a large mixedused regeneration scheme which will incorporate business, living and leisure.

%

16 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 0

14.7

14.6

14.5

12.7

11.6

10.3

9.8

6.7

Kirk Merrington

5.3

11.6

9.2

12.1

11.7

12.7

7.3

8.4

13.3

13.7

Durham County

Figure 1.16: Occupation profile of 16 to 74 year olds in Kirk Merrington Source: Census, 2001, LLSOA KS12A, 005B

“Economic inactivity relates to persons aged 16 to 74 years who are not in employment, or not actively seeking employment and available to start work within 2 weeks.� (Source: Census, 2001) Economic inactivity was also slightly lower than the County average (39.8%) with a total of 32% of the population not employed, and not actively seeking work (Census, 2001, LLSOA, KS12A, 005B). Retirement (15%) was the main reason for residents within Kirk Merrington being economically inactive; this is comparable with the County average where retirement equates to 14.8% of economic inactivity.

36


16 14

14.8

12 Kirk Merrington

10 %

8

10.3 15.0

6

Durham County

6.3

4

5.1

2

3.2

7.1 4.6

2.1

3.3

0 Retired

Student

Looking after Permanently home/family sick/disabled

Other

Figure 1.17: Economic inactivity in Kirk Merrington Source: Census, 2001, LLSOA, KS09A, 005B

Analysis of Department for Works and Pensions (DWP) data from March 2011 highlights that the Middlestone Ward (including The percentage of Byers Green and Kirk Merrington) had a higher residents claiming percentage of residents who have been claiming Jobseekers Allowance for Jobseekers Allowance for up to 6 months (77.8%) up to 12 months is higher when compared to the County (73.5%) and National than the County average. averages (68.5%). Data collection limitations do not allow for this information to be obtained for Kirk (DWP, 2011) Merrington alone. The percentage of residents claiming Jobseekers Allowance for a period of 6 to 12 months (19%) is also higher than the County (18%) and National (17%) averages. This high percentage of residents claiming Jobseekers Allowance for a period of 6 to 12 months has resulted in the community being ranked as BRONZE. It is important to note that the data used to compile this ranking relates to the Middlestone Ward (including Byers Green and Kirk Merrington), not Kirk Merrington alone. Full details of the methodology for this ranking can be found in Appendix 2. The percentage of residents claiming Jobseekers Allowance for 12 months or more (6.2%) is lower than County average (8.4%), and more than half the national average of 14.2%. This indicates that lower numbers of persons residing within Middlestone Ward are claiming Jobseekers Allowance for longer than 12 months when compared to the County and national averages. Sustainable communities require high levels of economic activity; this can be facilitated by a high percentage of the resident population being economically active through employment or actively seeking employment. Although long term unemployment is low when compared to County and National levels, it is important that local service providers work in partnership to proactively identify and minimise the barriers to employment experienced by residents who have become unemployed within the last 12 months. 37


1.4.2 Jobseekers Allowance Claimants During August 2010, there were a wide age range of residents that were claiming Jobseekers Allowance in Kirk Merrington (DWP, 2010). 50% of persons claiming Jobseekers Allowance were aged between 16 to 24 years; this being substantially higher than the County average of 34%. The percentage of persons aged 25 to 49 years claiming Jobseekers Allowance (50%) was marginally lower than the County average of 52%. There were no residents aged 50 years or more claiming Jobseekers Allowance. 60 50 50

50

52

40 % 30

34

Kirk Merrington Durham County

20 10

14 0

0 Claimants Aged 16- Claimants Aged 25- Claimants Aged 50 24 49 and Over Figure 1.18: Jobseekers Allowance claimants in Kirk Merrington Source: DWP, August 2010

The percentage of persons aged 16 to 24 years claiming Jobseekers Allowance was substantially higher than both Durham County and North East averages. This highlights a clear need for service providers to target this age group when delivering future skills and training courses. It is important that any skills and training courses targeted at this age group will help individuals to meet their training needs and future aspirations and help them gain sustainable employment. During consultation a number of residents expressed concerns about the lack of local employment opportunities for residents. In order to access training and employment residents are required to travel out of the village to surrounding towns and cities. Many feel that this requirement to travel is restricted by the cost of owning private transport and the restricted timetables and routes covered by local bus companies. There are

38

“Residents have to commute to work� Resident from Kirk Merrington


concerns that ongoing service cuts imposed by DCC may see local bus timetables further reduced thus restricting access to further education, training and employment for many residents. 1.4.3 Department for Works and Pensions Key Benefit Claimants During August 2009, the total percentage of residents claiming a DWP key out of work benefit was substantially lower than the Durham County average of 21%. The majority of residents in Kirk Merrington claiming a key benefit were in receipt of Incapacity Benefit (9%); this is lower than the County average of 11%. These figures are comparative with the intelligence contained in Section 1.6 which indicates that the general health of the population within Kirk Merrington is better when compared to the rest of Durham County.

0

1

0 Job Seekers 3 Incapacity Benefits Lone Parent Carer Others Income Related Benefits Disabled

9

Bereaved

Figure 1.19: Breakdown of persons residing in Kirk Merrington claiming key DWP benefits Source: DWP, August 2009

1.4.4 Household Income During 2001/02 estimates of mean weekly household income (gross) in the Middlestone Ward (including Byers Green and Kirk Merrington) was ÂŁ20 per week higher than the North East average of ÂŁ410 (ONS, Middlestone Ward, 2005). Data collection limitations have restricted further detailed analysis of this information to Kirk Merrington only. Based on this intelligence the community has been ranked as GOLD for average household income. It is important to note that the data used to compile this ranking relates to the Middlestone Ward (including Byers Green and Kirk Merrington), not Kirk Merrington alone. Full details of the methodology for this ranking can be found in Appendix 2. 39


Residents at both consultation events expressed significant concerns about the rising levels of fuel and housing costs and how the affordability of these costs are beginning to have a detrimental impact on income and lifestyle. 1.4.5 Vehicle Ownership and Cost of Travel In 2001, only 15.7% of households in Kirk Merrington did not own a car or van; this being substantially lower than the County average of 31.4%. 44.1% of households owned one car or van, and the remaining 40.2% owned two or more cars or vans (Census, 2001, LLSOA, KS17, 005B). Although levels of vehicle ownership may have altered since 2001, the rising cost of fuel and other related costs will now have a significant impact on vehicle usage, particularly amongst low income households. Low levels of vehicle ownership and restricted use can affect residents’ lifestyles by restricting access to services and facilities outside of the local area. The 2001 census indicated that 45.3% of residents in Kirk Merrington travelled to work driving a car or van (Census, 2001, LLSOA, UV39, 005B). Throughout consultation a number of residents expressed their concerns about the need to travel outside of the local area for access to shopping, employment, and specialist services such as colleges, universities and hospitals. This reliance on travel outside of the local area, places an increased need on a reliable public transport system for households that do not own their own vehicle. There are fears from residents that ongoing budgetary reductions to rural transport services imposed by DCC will see many residents become more isolated and detached from obtaining specialist services whilst also restricting their ability to gain sustainable employment.

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Key Economic characteristics:

During 2001/02 the weekly household income estimate was £20 higher than the North East average of £410 indicating a good level of affluence within Kirk Merrington. During 2001, economic activity within Kirk Merrington was higher than the Durham County average. 32% of residents in 2001 were not in employment, and not actively seeking work. 15% of residents were economically inactive due to being retired. During 2001, 20.1% of residents were employed in low skilled job roles. 40.7% of residents were employed as Professionals or Managers, or in Associate Professional and Technical roles. During March 2011 the percentage of residents claiming Jobseekers Allowance for 12 months or longer was low. Unemployment levels for residents claiming Jobseekers Allowance for 6 to 12 months were higher than the County average. The percentage of residents aged 16 to 64 years claiming Jobseekers Allowance is higher when compared to the County average. Health levels within the community are better when compared to the County average. During August 2009, only 14% of residents were claiming a key DWP Benefit. 9% of this total was claiming Incapacity Benefit.

1.4.6 Rental Debit in livin properties To assess the rent payments made by tenants within livin properties in Kirk Merrington an analysis and comparison of livin’s rental debit figures for 2009/10 and 2010/11 have been used. For the financial year 2009/10, the total rental debit charge (rent charged for all of livin’s properties in Kirk Merrington) was £50,433. At the end of this financial year there were outstanding arrears (unpaid rent) of £271; making an unpaid rental debit charge of 0.54%. For the financial year 2010/11 the total rental debit charge was £47,947. At the end of this financial year there were outstanding arrears of £72; making an unpaid rental debit charge of 0.03%. By the end of the financial year 2010/11 livin reduced its outstanding rental debit figure (unpaid rent) to 0.03%; a total of £199. Based on the unpaid rental debit charge of 0.03% for the financial year 2010/11, Kirk Merrington has been ranked as Gold. Full details of the methodology for this ranking can be found in Appendix 2. 41


Since 2009, livin have introduced and promoted a number of different payment options to make paying rent as easy and accessible as possible for tenants. These include Direct Debit or the option to pay their rent via payment card. Payment cards can be accepted at over 60 local outlets (including Post Offices) wherever the “Paypoint” sign is displayed During livin’s consultation events a number of residents expressed concerns about the rising level of housing costs and how the current economic climate is increasing the level of debt for low income households and community members. Although livin will aim to reduce the outstanding rental debit year on year the current economic climate and future reforms to the Welfare Benefits system will provide for challenging times. These challenges will require livin to work proactively with tenants and other household members by providing a dedicated Financial Inclusion Team to provide guidance or sign posting about money and debt management. What does this mean for livin? Kirk Merrington currently has high property prices, good levels of educational attainment, a high percentage of residents employed in management and professional roles, and an estimated weekly household income of £20 more than the North East average. However, it is important to recognise that although affluence as a whole within Kirk Merrington may be good there will still be some local residents who with help and advice from livin and its partners, can benefit from enhanced employment prospects and increased financial confidence. The effects of the recession and current economic downturn are being felt by a large number of households within livin’s local communities and together with future reforms to the Welfare Benefit system will provide for challenging times. As a result livin must be mindful that local residents and tenants within Kirk Merrington will potentially need support through these financial difficulties. This could mean the signposting of tenants and residents to debt management and financial inclusion support agencies through livin’s dedicated Financial inclusion Team. Consultation has found there to be an identified need for an increased provision of skills and training courses that can help more local residents attain new skills and qualifications for employment. It is evident from the analysis that any employability work undertaken by livin within the community must help reduce the number of persons claiming Jobseekers Allowance. There should be extra emphasis placed on residents aged 16 to 24 years that are claiming Jobseekers Allowance. livin are required to understand the barriers to employment experienced by residents and tenants and assess the level of support it can offer. During consultation events residents were apprehensive about recent financial cut backs to the village’s local bus services and the effect this is having on access to services and employment. This reduction in services together with the increasing cost of vehicle ownership has 42


the potential to make travelling to work a major barrier to employment within Kirk Merrington. livin must be aware of the contribution made by partners in supporting residents and tenants to gain employment and skills, and increase their economic wellbeing. It must support local community organisations that offer these services by ensuring their resources are fully utilised by local residents and that their existence is widely publicised throughout the local area.

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1.5

Access to Services and Facilities

Kirk Merrington is a small rural village with very limited services and amenities. There is no local GP or Dental surgery located in the village. Access to public health care can be found in the surrounding settlements of Ferryhill, Spennymoor and Bishop Auckland. Retail services within the village are very limited. There are three public houses serving meals to local residents and visitors but no local shops or convenience stores. To obtain grocery shopping, or for more specialised goods and services residents are required to travel out of the village to neighbouring Spennymoor, Bishop Auckland, Ferryhill or Newton Aycliffe.

“There are no local amenities in the village – nowhere to buy our bread and milk.” Resident from Kirk Merrington

During consultation many residents were concerned about the lack of amenities within the village, particularly for shopping, and activities for children and young persons. There is a Community Centre located within Kirk Merrington which is well utilised by a number of local groups and clubs for health and social related activities. Residents feel the Community Centre plays an essential role as a “meeting place”, bringing together local residents and helping to improve community cohesion. However there were concerns raised about a lack of activities for children and young people at the Community Centre. Although there is no resident library within the village, DCC provides a fortnightly mobile library that can be utilised by residents. There are no livin affiliated Residents’ Groups within Kirk Merrington. A local Methodist Church and the Church of St John the Evangelist are both located within the village offering regular worship and occasional coffee mornings and concerts throughout the year. The village has access to a broadband internet connection. During the Youth Forum the attending children and young persons raised a number of key issues in their local areas. These included the need for enhanced play facilities, accessible after school and weekend activities, and problems with dog fouling, graffiti and litter in public areas. These issues were common throughout the communities of Spennymoor, Kirk Merrington, Byers Green and Middlestone Moor. 52% of the youths that attended the event stated they would like more designated play areas within their local area. There were comments about poorly maintained 44


equipment in the play parks and dog fouling on playing fields and areas surrounding the play facilities. Some of the younger Forum members said they sometimes feel intimidated by the older teenagers using the play areas as a place “Lack of activities for to “hang out” on an evening and weekend. The children and young people youths also indicated that they would like to see an in the Village.” increased provision of arranged after school and Resident from Kirk Merrington weekend activities in their local areas. The types of activities identified were mainly health and fitness related (i.e. dance and sports clubs) together with the provision of more youth based activities at local leisure centres. Although there are a number of youth based activities in the Spennymoor area, these are restricted within Kirk Merrington resulting in a requirement for the youths to travel out of the local village to access after school and weekend activities. There is a multiuse games area located within the village, together with a playing field and small play park for children. The multi-use games area provides a fenced non-turfed area that can be used for a number of activities and games. There are no other recreational or sporting facilities within the village. During a Spennymoor AAP Forum event held in November 2010 the provision of activities for children and teenagers was again rated one of the top three priorities for the local AAP area by forum members. This provision will continue as one of the AAP’s priorities for 2011/12. Spennymoor Town Council own a number of allotment sites within Kirk Merrington which can be used to grow fresh vegetables, fruit and flowers. Although livin own a number of garden sites in surrounding towns and villages there are none located within Kirk Merrington. A recent survey of residents living within the Spennymoor AAP area (DCC, 2010) indicated that 85% were satisfied with public transport; this being one of the highest levels of satisfaction throughout the County. However “Limited bus services during consultation there were clear concerns from causing problems for residents about the provision of public transport in residents that need to and around Kirk Merrington. travel for work, shopping or education.” Many residents highlighted concerns about the reliability, cost and restrictions of the current public transport service and its necessity for providing essential access for many residents to shopping, employment and education.

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Resident from Kirk Merrington


In addition the rising costs of fuel and vehicle ownership will continue to place an increased need on a reliable and regular public transport system that serves the needs of the community as a whole. Key Services Characteristics: The community has very limited access to public services and amenities. There is no access to public health care or grocery shopping within the community. Residents have highlighted an essential need for travel out of the area for shopping, specialised goods or services, employment, and education. There is a Community Centre which is currently utilised by a number of local groups. The village has a small play park with multiuse games area and playing field. These are the only sporting and recreational facilities within the village. Satisfaction with public transport services in the area is poor with many residents feeling that the current provision is unreliable and restrictive for their needs. What does this mean for livin? livin needs to be aware of the positive impact that local services and service providers have on sustaining local communities. A reduced bus service within the village will not only increase the barriers to employment experienced by livin tenants and local residents but will also restrict vital access to supermarkets, education, sporting facilities and healthcare. Youth based activities within the village are limited, resulting in the requirement for youths to travel out of the area to access after school and weekend activities. Within any community there should be a good provision of youth based activities that will actively encourage engagement and participation in health and social related activities. livin must understand the pressures that local communities are under as a result of service cuts, and work in partnership with organisations such as DCC to ensure that the effects of any service reductions are minimal and that tenants, residents and service providers are aware of their implications.

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1.6

Health and Wellbeing

The general level of health in Kirk Merrington is During 2001, the number of notably better than that of the County as a whole persons in “Not Good” (Census, 2001, LLSOA, KS08, 005B). The total health in Kirk Merrington percentage of persons in “Good” general health is was 3% lower than the 6% higher than the County average. The County average. percentage of residents who indicated that they were in “Not Good” general health is 3% less when compared to the County average. 2001 Census data indicates that 14.4% of persons of working age suffer from a limiting long term illness (Census, 2001, LLSOA, KS08, 005B). Again this is lower than the County average of 19.8%. “A limiting long-term illness covers any long-term illness, health problem or disability that limits daily activities or work. Working age is defined as persons aged between 16 to 64 years inclusive for men and 16 to 59 years inclusive for women.” (Census 2001) The 2007 Indices of Deprivation indicates that in relation to Health, 39.6% of residents living in the Spennymoor AAP area (including Kirk Merrington) are deemed to be in the top 10% nationally deprived (CLG, 2007). This is higher than the Durham County average where 35.7% of residents are deemed to be in the top 10% nationally deprived. It is important to note that this data relates to all areas within Spennymoor AAP, not Kirk Merrington alone. 80 70 60

69.2

62.6

50 % 40

Kirk Merrington Durham County

30 20.8 20

24.2 10.1

10

13.2

0 General health: Good

General health: Fairly good

General health: Not good

Figure 1.20: Levels of Health within Kirk Merrington Source: Census, 2001, LLSOA, KS08, 005B

To access sporting facilities residents are required to travel outside of the village to DCC leisure centres at nearby Spennymoor, Bishop Auckland and Newton Aycliffe. The local leisure centre at Ferryhill which is also owned and managed by DCC is 47


expected to close by the end of 2011. The extra costs relating to travel and the use of these facilities could prove unaffordable thus restricting access to health based activities for some members of the community. Key Health Characteristics: During 2001, general levels of health in the community were better when compared to the County average. 14.4% of “working age” residents are suffering from a limiting long term illness.

Residents are required to travel for access to leisure facilities. Increased costs associated with travel may result in access to leisure facilities becoming unaffordable for some local households. Residents would like to see the provision of more health based activities and activities for children and young people within the village.

What does this mean for livin? There has been a long established connection between health and housing. As a result of the Government’s Health Reform proposals a stronger role will emerge for livin to act in partnership with local health providers to improve the health and wellbeing of our tenants and their families. As a “frontline” service provider livin has privileged access to tenants and their families; providing the potential for signposting to health related services. Good levels of health can have positive effects on educational achievement and help promote employment within a community. Although levels of health within Kirk Merrington are better than the County average it is important that livin utilises involvement and interaction with our tenants and their families to maintain and further enhance this level of health. There are a number of projects that livin could support that will link into the preventative health agenda; making it critical that livin engages and works in partnership with other local health based stakeholders to ensure maximum use of resources.

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1.7

Education and Training

Levels of educational attainment for residents are higher within Kirk Merrington when compared to the Durham County average (Census, 2001, LLSOA, KS13, 005B).

2001 census data indicates that 17.2% of residents have attained qualifications to degree or professional levels.

2001 Census data indicates that 29.2% of the population in the area have no formal qualifications. The percentages of residents attaining level 1 (18.6%) and level 2 (20.9%) qualifications are higher when compared to the County averages. Level 1 qualifications include 1+'O' level passes; 1+ CSE/GCSE any grades; NVQ level 1; or Foundation level GNVQ. Level 2 qualifications include 5+GCSEs (grades A-C); 1+ 'A' levels/'AS' levels; NVQ level 2; or Intermediate GNVQ. 40 35 30

29.2

25 18.6

% 20

20.9

Kirk Merrington

17.2

15 10 5

7.5

6.5 36.0

17.0

18.1

7.4

0

14.5

7.1

Durham County

Figure 1.21: Educational attainment within Kirk Merrington Source: Census, 2001, LLSOA, KS13, 005B

6.5% of residents hold qualifications at level 3; this being marginally less than the County average of 7.4%. Level 3 qualifications are necessary for advancement into University, higher education or professional qualifications and include 2+ 'A' levels; 4+ 'AS' levels; NVQ level 3; or an Advanced GNVQ. However, there are a high percentage of residents (17.2%) that hold qualifications at levels 4/5 when compared to the County average (14.5%).

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A level 4/5 qualification is equivalent to a First Degree, Higher Degree, NVQ levels 4 and 5, HNC, HND, or professional qualifications including qualified teacher, medical doctor, dentist, nurse, midwife, or health visitor. This high level of educational attainment can be attributed to the high number of persons employed in skilled roles as Professionals, Managers, or in Associate Professional and Technical roles. Based on a high percentage of residents living within the village attaining level 2 qualifications (5+ GCSEs A-C grades) the community has been ranked as GOLD for educational attainment. Although Kirk Merrington Primary School and Pre School are located within the village residents require access to transport to access secondary schools and higher education. The Primary School has a good reputation within the village.

“There is a need to travel for secondary schools and colleges so a good, reliable bus service is essential.” Resident from Kirk Merrington

The nearest further education colleges are located at Bishop Auckland, Darlington and Durham with all requiring access to public or private transport. Bishop Auckland College also provide an outreach learning centre located at nearby Spennymoor. For many residents access to further education and employment will require travel out of the local area, this being hampered by the rising costs of vehicle ownership and what is seen to be a restricted public transport service. The Local Learning Partnership (LLP) for Spennymoor, Byers Green and Kirk Merrington is a partnership of local centres and learning providers which aims to provide learning opportunities to residents within the local community. LLP offer a range of non-accredited and accredited courses ranging from health and leisure to employment related and arts courses, in various community venues including Kirk Merrington. At the Youth Forum the attending children and young persons indicated “Education and Training” to be of significant importance to them. Information gained from youths living in the areas of Spennymoor, Middlestone Moor, Byers Green and Kirk Merrington highlights the hopes of many to continue their education to degree or professional level to enable them to become employed in professional or skilled roles such as teachers, doctors, accountants, health professionals and veterinarians. It is hoped that a requirement to travel out of the local area to access higher education, and the rising costs of University fees do not restrict access into these professions. As a high level of economic activity is essential for maintaining community sustainability it is important that local service providers work in partnership to help and encourage local youths to continue their education with the hope of gaining sustainable employment.

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There is a lot of concern from local residents about the opportunities for training and education within the village. Access to further education and employment usually requires residents to travel out of the local area, this being hampered by the rising costs of vehicle ownership and what is seen to be an inadequate public transport service. Key Education Characteristics: In 2001, 29.2% of residents within the community held no formal educational qualifications. 17.2% of residents within the community are educated to Degree or Professional level; this is higher than the Durham County average. There is good access to primary education with Kirk Merrington primary school located within the village. Access to secondary education and college requires travel outside of the community. Residents are concerned that the current public transport service within the village is restricting access to education.

What does this mean for livin? Education is a cornerstone of a sustainable community as it will promote financial inclusion and help increase economic activity. During 2001, a high percentage of residents within the village were educated to Degree or Professional level. However residents are concerned that increasing travel costs and an inadequate public transport service is restricting access to education and training for many younger residents. Although livin cannot play a direct role in the provision of education there may be opportunities to link with local education providers such as local schools and colleges to help increase educational opportunities for our tenants and local residents.

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1.8

Reputation of the local area and community cohesion

Feedback gained from the consultation events indicates that the village is perceived by local residents to be a pleasant, friendly and safe place to live. The residents attending the consultation events feel the current level of community cohesion within the village to be good. They believe the Community Centre and the facilities and activities that it provides are essential in maintaining community cohesion.

“There is a good level of community spirit in Kirk Merrington.” Resident from Kirk Merrington

livin is aware that to increase the reputation of a community and enhance community cohesion the involvement of local residents is imperative. To enable the success of this Community Plan and the achievement of the Local Offers it is important that local residents and community groups play an important role. The involvement of the local community in delivering these Local Offers can help empower local residents to make a difference in their local communities, and develop partnership working to improve the overall reputation of the community and enhance community cohesion. 1.9

Local Environment

The majority of environmental feedback received from residents during the consultation events centred on concerns about dog fouling in public areas and the need for traffic calming measures to deter motorists from speeding through the village.

“The village needs some traffic calming measures as some motorists drive at speed through the village.” Resident from Kirk Merrington

Residents are particularly concerned about increased incidents of dog fouling in public play areas, particularly on the playing field and around the children’s’ play area. There was also a request for traffic calming measures around the local Primary School and Hallgarth Street.

“Kirk Merrington needs improved outdoor facilities for children and young persons” Resident from Kirk Merrington

On the 18 August 2011 an Environmental Assessment of the community was conducted by members of livin’s Communities Team. The Assessment was completed by assessing a number of environmental indicators at two designated “stopping” points on a pre-determined route through the community.

At each designated stopping point a number of environmental indicators were assessed and a number of points awarded. 52


During the assessment the community was found to be clean and tidy. There was no evidence of litter, fly tipping or dog faeces in public areas. Properties within the vicinity of the stopping points were well maintained with tidy gardens. The public highway was identified to be in poor condition in places between Hopkinson Place and Chapel Street. Based on the points awarded at the pre-determined stopping points, the community scored a total value of 34. As a result the overall condition of the community has been ranked as GOLD. The full methodology relating to the Environmental Assessment can be found in Appendix 2.

Figure 1.22: Route of Environmental Assessment

What does this mean for livin? A high Environmental Assessment scoring and Gold ranking is a good result for the community. It means that the community does not require intensive support and may only require targeted work in specific hotspots area. However, it is important that livin ensure that future Environmental Assessments within this community are conducted at appropriate intervals to ensure the community is able to maintain this high ranking.

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Section 2

Community Priorities

Based on the information contained within this community plan livin has been able to identify and assess a number of key strengths and challenges that are being faced by residents living in the community of Kirk Merrington. To improve the levels of sustainability within this community it is important that key strengths are maintained; together with conscientious efforts being made by livin, other community stakeholders and local residents to address and reduce identified challenges. Taking into account these challenges livin has developed four key priorities for the community: 

Help to influence and maintain services that benefit the needs of local residents and the community as a whole

Develop a partnership approach to reducing barriers to work and increasing employment opportunities for local residents

Develop a partnership approach to develop health based initiatives to help residents adopt healthier lifestyles and further improve levels of health

Maintain a partnership approach to reduce incidents of low level crime and antisocial behaviour

The development of these key priorities and the creation of realistic Local Offers that can be used by livin, community stakeholders and local residents to address and achieve them will enable the maximisation of internal and external resources available throughout the community.

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Section 3

Review of the Community Plan

The original actions contained within this Community Plan were revised in March 2013. Based on what livin has learnt from your community, and our work with local partners we have now developed a set of Local Offers for Kirk Merrington. The Local Offers have taken into account the original actions from the community plan and the views of the community obtained through consultation, leading to a new set of standards and actions aimed at supporting and benefiting your area. Delivery of the Local Offers will be monitored by livin tenants. A copy of livin’s Local Offers for Kirk Merrington can be found on our website at www.livin.co.uk. This main Community Plan will be revised in 2014.

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APPENDIX 1

livin STRATEGIC FRAMEWORK & REGULATORY REQUIREMENTS

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livin Strategic Framework livin’s role as a Registered Provider of social housing extends beyond managing houses. This has been identified within livin’s Corporate Plan for 2011 – 2014 which highlights the importance of improving the economic viability of local communities, followed by social factors such as health and education, and enhancing the local environment. As such livin is focused on supporting the development of sustainable communities for the current and future generation of residents. This is articulated through the Company’s vision, mission and personality which are; Mission “working with the community at heart” Vision “sustaining and growing safe, cohesive and vibrant communities through excellent customer services” Personality “Caring, supportive, helpful and community orientated” It is acknowledged that livin can play a key role in contributing to the delivery of sustainable communities. By developing strong and coordinated partnership working with residents and key stakeholders livin will develop: 

Prosperous Communities - addressing economic viability of communities by helping people to improve their financial circumstances, become less dependent on benefits, positively address employability and increase financial confidence.

Healthy Communities – addressing social wellbeing, community cohesion and health inequalities by improving health and wellbeing, secure access to further opportunities and develop their aspirations.

Green Communities – addressing environmental quality and sustainability by enhancing the setting of homes and promoting and supporting green initiatives in communities.

During April 2011, livin introduced the “Your Voice, Local Choice”, Local Offer document to ensure that “the right services are delivered in the right place for the right people”. The Local Offer is a list of ten pledges that livin has made to tenants in order to deliver key priorities. Full details of the pledges contained in livin’s Local Offer can be found on the website at livin.co.uk or alternatively a copy can be requested by contacting livin on 0845 505 5500 or 0300 111 2234 (low rate from a mobile depending on network).

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In addition to helping livin work towards sustaining and growing safe, cohesive, and vibrant communities the Community Plans will play an important role in shaping and articulating the Local Offer to tenants. They are the delivery mechanism for the pledges contained within the Offer and will enable livin, community stakeholders and local residents to tailor services and resources to the specific needs of each individual community and enhance local service delivery. This relationship is illustrated in the diagram below:

Local Offer Established guiding principles

Community Plan Strategy

Locality 1

Locality 2

Locality 3

Locality 4

Locality 5

Byers Green

Dean Bank

Trimdon Village

Shildon

Aycliffe Old Town

Kirk Merrington

Ferryhill Village & Cleves Cross

Trimdon Grange

Middridge

Aycliffe New Town

Middlestone Moor

West Cornforth

Trimdon Colliery

Spennymoor Town

Bishop Middleham

Fishburn

Chilton & Chilton Lane

Sedgefield

Aycliffe Village

The development and implementation of the Community Plans represents a strategic change in livin’s approach to supporting the sustainability of communities and will help deliver the corporate improvement themes of “Customer Focussed Services” and “Efficient Assets” by:   

improving lives, neighbourhoods and communities improving customer involvement and empowerment, and increasing the sustainability of tenancies and homes

The Plans will be utilised to inform and enhance livin’s strategic planning and asset management framework whilst helping to deliver customer and community focused

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investment. They have an impact on all areas of service delivery, renewal and regeneration, and have departmental cross cutting themes. Each Plan takes into account a whole spectrum of current national, regional and local strategic agendas whilst retaining enough flexibility to address future emerging policy and structural changes at all levels. They complement the Government’s Localism Bill by facilitating and empowering local communities to improve local services in their local area and careful consideration has also been given to relevant housing strategies adopted by Durham County Council and the implications of the Housing and Communities Agency (HCA) new role in regulating social landlords. Tenant Services Authority Regulatory Requirements The development and implementation of Community Plans also reflects livin’s commitment to adhering to the Tenant Services Authority’s (TSA) current regulatory regime. This regime requires livin to meet six separate service standards:      

Tenant Involvement and Empowerment Home Tenancy Neighbourhood and Community Value for Money Governance and Financial Viability

Comprehensive consultation to support each Plan will help livin to enhance customer services and encourage local residents to become more responsible for local services and the improvement of their communities thus addressing the Tenant Involvement and Empowerment standard. The Home standard will be addressed by assessing the current condition of the current housing stock in each community to ensure that it is of high quality, well maintained and suitable for demand. It is crucial that the Tenancy standard be incorporated into the outcomes of the Community Plan through the consideration and effective use of lettings policies, rent management policies and the enhancement of tenancy sustainment. As part of the Neighbourhood and Community standard livin is required to deliver on three separate outcomes; local cooperation, antisocial behaviour and community management. All of these will outcomes will be considered and addressed within the outcomes of each Plan. The Plans will also address the Value for Money standard by ensuring that livin prioritise resources based on the actual needs and requirements of local residents whilst enabling confidence for external stakeholders and businesses to invest in the communities. 59


Durham County Council Strategic Framework Durham County Council’s “Sustainable Communities” Strategy 2010-2030 is the overarching plan for delivering long lasting improvements throughout the County. It sets out five key strategic priority themes that will be focused on during the next 20 years:     

Altogether Wealthier Altogether Better for Children and Young People Altogether Healthier Altogether Safer Altogether Greener

Whilst, Registered Providers are essential partners in delivering sustainable communities, local authorities have the key strategic responsibility in this area. This is particularly important for livin given its current geographical boundary within County Durham and its relatively high levels of deprivation. Therefore the Company’s approach of aligning key elements of its Corporate Plan 2011 – 2014 to the priorities set out in Durham County Council’s Sustainable Communities Strategy is vital in allowing the Company to play its role as a key partner in delivering sustainable communities. The provision of sustainable communities and vibrant and successful towns sits within the key strategic theme of “Altogether Wealthier” and places a significant emphasis on local housing markets and improvements in employability and skills as key drivers in this achievement. Although the provision of a successful housing market is predominantly featured in the theme of “Altogether Wealthier” there can be cross cutting themes across the other four priority themes as demonstrated in the community plans. This theme of housing being a key driver in creating sustainable communities is further detailed in “Building Altogether Better Lives: A Housing Strategy for County Durham 2010-2015” (DCC, 2010). This strategy focuses on the ability for housing and other related services to create better life chances for persons living in County Durham by delivering better housing markets and high quality housing stock through enhanced partnership working. National Housing Federation Research conducted by the National Housing Federation (NHF) found that numerous RP’s are now using their presence and impact within their local communities to provide services outside of their core housing management activities.

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These activities are centred on employment and enterprise services, education and skills services, wellbeing services, poverty and social inclusion, safety and community cohesion. During 2006/07 the NHF found that RP’s nationally delivered 6,800 community services (including facilities) and invested £435 million (£272 million internal and £163 external) into resources outside of their core areas of activity. This study highlighted the prominence that RP’s have within their local communities and their perfect position to act as place makers in their communities. Further information and details relating to this research is contained within the full NHF report, “The scale and scope of housing associations activity beyond housing”.

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APPENDIX 2

METHODOLOGY

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livin Communities With the help of livin’s Tenants Panel 19 local communities were defined. These 19 communities are also loosely based around Durham Constabulary’s local Police “Beat” patches and are detailed below: Locality Community Byers Green Kirk Merrington Middlestone Moor Spennymoor Town 1

Dean Bank Ferryhill Village and Cleves Cross 2

West Cornforth Bishop Middleham Chilton and Chilton Lane

3

Trimdon Village Trimdon Grange Trimdon Colliery Fishburn Sedgefield Shildon

4 Middridge Aycliffe Old Town

Aycliffe New Town 5

Aycliffe Village

Estates Byers Green Kirk Merrington Middlestone Moor Town Centre (inc Bessemer Park) York Hill Tudhoe Tudhoe Grange Dean Bank Ferryhill Village Cleves Cross Topside Lowside Bishop Middleham The Poets Windlestone Trimdon Village Trimdon Grange Trimdon Colliery Fishburn Sedgefield Central Shildon Jubilee Fields New Shildon Middridge Shafto Simpasture Central Horndale Agnew Burnhill Western Aycliffe Village

To successfully complete each individual Plan a wide range of quantitative and qualitative data from an extended range of sources has been utilised. Data obtained from these sources has focused on several social, economic and environmental indicators. Data used to calculate the population figures for Kirk Merrington has been obtained from the 2001 Census data provided by DCC and is based on the 63


settlement of Kirk Merrington only (DCC, 2001). Unless stated all other Census data has been obtained from the Lower Level Super Output Area 005B which includes both Kirk Merrington and North Close. Qualitative data collection methods has required livin to hold a number of consultation events within each community to gain the views and opinions of local residents and children and young persons; together with anecdotal data from interviews with members of staff from livin’s Communities and Home Support Team. Social, Economic and Environmental Indicators Several social, economic and environmental indicators have been established for each community; with some being benchmarked against County and National data averages. The table below shows the themes and topics each Community Plan has explored and the data sources used to populate the required intelligence. Themes

Accessibility to Services and Facilities

Method  Quantitative- National statistics, livin stock data, DKO lettings data, Council tax data, Durham County Council strategic housing market assessment, House price websites and Land Registry data  Qualitative – Interviews and consultation events  Quantitative – Durham Constabulary crime data and livin internal data  Qualitative – Interviews and consultation events  Quantitative - National statistics and DWP Benefit data  Qualitative – Interviews and consultation events  Qualitative – Interviews and consultation events

Health and Well Being

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Education and Training

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Housing

Crime Rates and Perception of Crime

Economy and Employment

Reputation and Community Cohesion Local Environment (including built environment, management of public areas) 64

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Quantitative - National Statistics Qualitative – Interviews and consultation events Quantitative - National Statistics Qualitative – Interviews and consultation events Qualitative – Interviews and consultation events Qualitative – Interviews, consultation events and community environmental assessments


Community Views and Opinions The community in Kirk Merrington were invited to tell livin their views, concerns and opinions about their local community. Two consultation events took place during May 2011 at the Community Centre. In June 2011, livin and other partner agencies participated in a forum event involving a number of young people (aged 10 to 14 years) predominantly from Spennymoor, Byers Green, Kirk Merrington, and Middlestone Moor to obtain views and opinions about their communities, housing and lifestyles. Anecdotal evidence to support the intelligence contained in this plan has also been obtained from the Police Beat Team for Kirk Merrington and livin staff members. The table below highlights the main concerns and areas for improvement highlighted during livin’s consultation events: Themes Education & Training

Housing

Reputation and Community Cohesion

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Community Comments Have to travel for education – problems with transport Primary school in Kirk Merrington is very good House prices are a barrier to living in Kirk Merrington – too high Lack of affordable homes in the village Not enough affordable housing or “council” housing Hard for first time buyers to get on the property ladder – lack of affordable homes in the village Good – community centre is good for bringing people together Good reputation – excellent community spirit Friendly village Community spirit is ok – community centre provides good meeting place


Access to Services and Facilities

Crime and Antisocial Behaviour

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No shops / very few services – nowhere to buy bread and milk Lack of facilities for youth engagement – no youth club Lack of shops Bus services reduced – causes problems Lack of shops and Post Office No local amenities – no shops etc – bus services cut Need more play activities Need a shop

Speeding outside of school – need traffic calming – traffic through the village is increasing Cars parking around the church (Sunday) Speeding buses – traffic calming needed Speeding outside of the local school Traffic calming needed around Hallgarth area Very quiet - no problems reported with youths causing ASB or nuisance behaviour Received ASB reports are not in relation to youths causing a nuisance.

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Environment

Economy and Employment

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67

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Lack of activities and facilities for children - just hang around park More external facilities for teenagers More dog and litter bins Dog fouling - play area Dog fouling – footpaths and playing field Plenty of places to play Not enough grassed areas to play Need more parks Litter Lots of dog faeces in the play areas The park where I play is dangerous Like the open space and playing fields so that can play sport based activities. Need more open play spaces where children can safely play

No issues with employability but need to commute to be able to work


Community Ranking Methodology Based on the intelligence contained within this Community Plan livin has been able to rank the community based on; Bronze (potential), Silver (aspiring) or Gold (performing). This will enable the identification of the communities which require more immediate and more intensive interventions whilst ensuring there are mechanisms in place to maintain Gold standards. The following are details of the methodology used by livin when determining the ranking for each community indicator: Indicator

Housing Market Affordability

Tenancy Turnover

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Ranking Affordability ratios have been devised by comparing income to house prices in order to calculate how many times their average income an individual would be required to borrow to purchase their own property. It is particularly interesting to assess how well lower income households can access the housing market. To gauge access to entry level housing the data used is the lower quartile income of residents within the former area of Sedgefield Borough and the average price of terraced housing within the community (the assumption is that this house type is often the lower quartile house type). Data sources for this information were the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) 2010 and land registry house price data. To assess the level of affordability it is important to rank the multiplier by the England average. In England during 2009 the lower quartile house price was 6.28 times the lower quartile full-time individual earnings (http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/corporate/statistics/housingplanningstatistics2010). Access to lending on homes is still calculated using a multiplier of 3.5 for single households and 2.9 for dual income households, therefore a multiplier of 3.5 or less can be deemed as affordable. Tenancy Turnover is determined by the percentage of houses available to let compared with the total housing stock in a community. It is recognised that this methodology is very simplistic and there are several factors that should be considered in conjunction with this ranking. These include:  Turnover rates in specific house types are generally higher than others (one bedroom bungalows) so consideration must be given to the total community stock profile  Gold communities will have a lower tenancy turnover; however a Gold ranking could indicate lack of access to housing and affordability issues requiring more households to have a housing need for socially rented properties in a particular community It is important that when considering tenancy turnover; further investigation be given to the circumstances surrounding the ranking and circumstances that may have contributed towards a

Gold = Multiplier of 0 to 3.5 is affordable Silver = Multiplier of 3.6 to 6.3 Bronze = Multiplier of 6.4 and above

Gold = 5% turnover or less Silver = 8-9% turnover Bronze = 10% turnover or more


Demand for livin housing

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high level of turnover. Further investigation should also be made into stock types within the community and the accessibility and affordability of housing. To compile the percentage rates used to calculate this ranking consideration has been given to Housemark’s national Benchmarking figures Demand for livin properties has been determined by the comparison of three indicators of demand taken from Durham Key Options (DKO) data. Each of these indicators has been scored accordingly with the overall score of all three determining the ranking allocated to the community:  Hard to let properties in a community: This is defined as properties that have been advertised in three or more bidding cycles with DKO before being let. It is important to note that the presence of low demand house types within a community can increase the percentage of hard to let properties within a community. - No properties hard to let = 5 points - 1 to 2% of properties hard to let = 3 points - 3% or more properties hard to let = 1 point  Area of preference: Upon application households can choose their areas of choice. These indicate a “perception” of an area therefore producing a demand. Areas of preference between communities have been determined by analysing the number of applicants showing Gold = 11 to 15 points a preference for each community compared to the amount of applicants received by livin (by Silver = 6 to 10 points percentage). Applicants can indicate a preference for more than one area and it must be noted that area of preference is made at point of first application to DKO and is a snapshot in Bronze = 1 to 5 points time. Often applicants do not update their areas of preference and these areas of preference may differ from their original indications during time spent on the housing register. - 50% or more applicants expressing the community as an area of preference = 5 points - 21 to 49% of applicants expressing the community as an area of preference = 3 points - 0 to 20% of applicants expressing the community as an area of preference = 1 point  Average (mean) bids per property by community: Demand is evident by the volume of bids received for a property. It is noted that this method will disguise some house types or localised areas where the bids per property are very low and in some areas where there are exceptional number of bids per property. - 20 bids or more = 5 points - 10-19 bids = 3 points - 9 bids or less = 1 point These three indicators considered together give livin a fair indication of demand for livin’s


communities. However, anecdotal evidence from staff has uncovered that this methodology may disguise the actual experience of demand in livin communities by using a general mean average over all house types and sizes. This ranking together with the analysis does indicate areas of further in depth analysis. This has been calculated by analysing the total repair costs for livin properties within each of the 19 communities for the period 01 April 2009 to 31 March 2010. Average Repair Costs Per Property

To calculate the average repair cost per property the total cost of all repairs for all livin properties in the community has been divided against the total number of stock livin owns within the community.

Gold = £599 or less Silver = £600 to £650 Bronze = £600 or more

This ranking is based on data supplied by the DWP in March 2011 and relates to the percentage Gold = 17% or less of persons residing in the Middlestone Ward (including Kirk Merrington and Byers Green) claiming (lower than the County Jobseekers Allowance for a period of 6 to 12 months. percentage) Long Term Unemployment (6 to 12 months)

This data has been compared to the overall percentage for Durham County of 18%. Data was obtained from the NOMIS Official Labour Market Statistics supplied by the Office for National Statistics.

Silver = 18% (equivalent to the County percentage) Bronze = 19% or more (higher than the County percentage)

Average Household Income

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This ranking is based on national statistics and relates to model-based average weekly household total income estimates for households in the Middlestone Ward (including Kirk Merrington and Gold = £411.00 or Byers Green) for 2001/02. more This data has been compared to the North East average weekly household total income estimate Silver = £410.00 of £410.00. Data was obtained from the Office for National Statistics. Bronze = £409.99 or less


To assess the rent payments made by tenants within livin properties in Kirk Merrington an analysis and comparison of livin’s rental debit figures for 2009/10 to 2010/11 were utilised. The total rental debit charge is the total rent charged for all livin properties within Kirk Merrington throughout a financial year. At the end of the financial year the total amount of rent payments collected by livin is offset against the total rental debit.

livin Rental Debit

Gold = 0 to 0.99% The total amount of rent payments collected by livin is calculated within the first week of the following financial year; this ensures that any housing benefit payments have been processed and Silver = 1.00% to credited to the relevant rent account. All housing benefit payments paid by DCC are received 1.99% every 4 weeks and are paid in arrears. By offsetting the amount of rent paid throughout the year against the total rental debit charge for the year livin are able to calculate how much outstanding debt it has within each individual community. This outstanding debt is commonly referred to as “rent arrears”. This figure is then calculated as a percentage of the total rental debit charge and has been used to provide the community’s ranking.

Bronze = over 2.00%.

livin has not been able to base the ranking of rental debit against any validated local benchmarking figures.

Educational Attainment (5 GCSE’s Grade C & Above) Environmental Assessment

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This ranking is based on national statistics from the 2001 Census data and relates to the percentage of persons residing in the community of Kirk Merrington that have an educational Gold = 19% or more attainment of 5 GCSE’s Grade C and above. This data has been compared and ranked against Silver = 18% the County and North East averages of 18%. Data obtained from the Office for National Statistics at www.statisics.co.uk

Bronze = 17% or less

On 21 July 2011 staff from livin’s Communities Teams conducted an Environmental Assessment on a pre-determined route through the community. At each of the “stopping points” a number of economic indicators were scored. The maximum number of points that can be awarded at each stopping point is 35. Environmental indicators include:  Grassed areas & shrubs  Fly tipping & litter  Garages

Gold = 30 to 35 points Silver = 21 to 29 points Bronze = 0 to 20 points


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Pathways, roads & parking Trees Boundary walls & fences Gardens

The route through the community began on the B6287 and continued through to Chapel Street, along Merrington Close and ended at Beckwith. The total number of points attained throughout the assessment is then divided by the number of stopping points to provide an average total for the community. The community scored a total of 34 points (68 divided by 2 = 34). Full details of the Environmental Assessments can be found at: www.livin.co.uk

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15 Substantial issues

10 Prominent issues

5 Low level issues

0 Economic

Social

Total Score for Kirk Merrington

Environmental

21

This score is based on a range of economic, social, and environmental indicators contained within the Community Plan for Kirk Merrington. These issues have been scored against strategic priorities from livin’s Corporate Plan 2011-2014. The maximum a community can score is 36. This is based on a maximum of 15 points for economic issues, 12 points for social issues and 9 points for environmental issues. Contact Us: livin, Farrell House, Arlington Way, DurhamGate, Spennymoor, Co Durham, DL16 6NL visit: livin.co.uk e: contactus@livin.co.uk t: 0800 587 4538 (free from a landline) or 0300 111 2344 (cheap rate from mobiles depending on your network

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Kirk Merrington Community Plan 2011 2014