The Tees Valley Local Access Forum
The Tees Valley Local Access Forum, established as a statutory body in 2003, covers the whole of the Boroughs of Hartlepool, Stockton on Tees, Middlesbrough and Darlington.
It provides independent advice to the four Local Authorities and other national organisations, such as Natural England, on a wide range of issues relating to countryside or coastal access. The Forum's main purpose is to advise on how to make the countryside more accessible and enjoyable for recreation whilst at the same time taking into account environmental, social and economic interests.
At present, our members are involved in discussions affecting access locally and nationally. Their expertise is helping shape initiatives in the Tees Valley, which include developing access within the River Tees Re-discovered Landscape Partnership Bid and improving the Teesdale Way where this European Long Distance Trail travels through Teesside.
Members have also been involved with the successful outcome of the England Coast Path from Sunderland to North Gare in Hartlepool. Joint work between Local Authorities, partner organisations, LAFs and Natural England meant that this route was successfully opened in the spring of 2014. Active lobbying by the members has meant that Natural England has tackled crossing the estuary of the River Tees from North Gare in Hartlepool across the Newport Bridge at Middlesbrough. This will link to the Cleveland Way and the section of the England Coast Path presently being examined by the Secretary of State from Newport to Filey Brigg in North Yorkshire.
Tees Valley LAF and Durham LAF have joined forces to help guide the latest Landscape Partnership Bid in the area focussing on the River Tees where it rises in Hurworth in County Durham to South Park Darlington. The Bright Water Partnership will cover 200 square km and includes Durham County Council, GroundworkNE, Durham Wildlife Trust and the Tees River Trust.
The latest national Consultation was into Walking and Cycling and issued by the Department for Transport in the Autumn of 2014. Due to the extent of the proposals, regional consultation took place and LAFs across the north east endorsed a regional response attempting to guide the DoT into a national set of guidelines for Local Authorities to follow.
More locally, the Elwick Community Partnership was successfully in drawing down Paths for Communities funding to create footpath links in Elwick village. The TVLAF supported the application along with local community groups to establish cross links between existing paths allowing short circular walks. Together with Limestone Landscapes, a heritage trail will be created connecting a historic Drovers road, the site of a mill, and the Howls ancient woodland with other parts of the village.