Online Archive  
Issue 15 - September 1973
Flass Vale


Flass Vale is only a short walk from the centre of Durham City. It is bordered by Western Hill, the railway and the Great North Road. It is surrounded by housing on all sides, but this is not at all evident from within the vale where life is radically different.

The Vale is thickly wooded on the south side with general copses and hillocks throughout. There are many splendid beeches and oaks. In the moist valley bed willows cast shade over orchids. There is a loganberry burn where white berries make it even more unique. Foxes, badgers, bares etc etc live in the Vale. Hoopoes - rare migratory birds of stunning beauty have rested in this place of tranquillity. Flass Vale abounds with wildlife.




People who live around the Vale use it frequently but with respect, their children can play there in safety in the natural playground. Walking in the maze of paths around the Vale and through the trees appeals to the light of foot. There is something for everyone in Flass Vale. It doesn't have to be advertised - those who seek it, find it.

Unfortunately to some, the value of Flass Vale is totally convertible to money. In the early sixties one of the major property owners applied to the County Planning Department for building permission. In accord with their policy, this application was refused. The owner appealed to the Ministry of Housing who granted the appeal on the condition that the houses be built for rich people. That was in 1962. The land owner subsequently died and the 'right' to possess the land found its way into the hands of Wilson (Spennymoor) Ltd. This building firm under investigation turns out to be Northern Securities. It was reluctantly granted planning permission by the County Planners, who feared that if they didn't accept the plans, which were within the conditions of the successful appeal, they would run into trouble with the Ministry of Environment.

Wilson Ltd plan to build 33 houses starting at £30,000 apiece; they will be built on sand and will look over the best part of the Vale. When sold another 120 houses will be built filling the vale. There are alternative but less lucrative sites all around Durham. Good housing in Langley Moor, Hett, Mount Pleasant etc is going to be bulldozed. ££££££££


Since 1962 there have been moves to make the preservation of Flass Vale legally binding. Information has been difficult to acquire. Individuals have tired of pursuing protection against malicious builders who at the time were not in the least apparent. That Flass Vale would ever be built on seemed simply absurd.

With the completely discordant appearance of a solitary bulldozer in the vale, local people acted. Information was sought, a petition organised and councillors Sam Green and Harvey Smith and others co-ordinated. The City Trust has gone to London to seek a High Court injunction. Even if the attempt to gain an injunction it will take time to come into force. Meanwhile the bulldozer moves on uprooting trees and disrupting animal life. The injunction will only be the beginning; it will enable blanket preservation orders to be established. If the vale is ruined before the injunction no such preservation orders will be granted. ALL DESTRUCTION MUST BE STOPPED.

Those who have faith in the possibility of the injunction being given are putting all their eggs in one basket. That basket is not held by them but by the institution of law and ultimately of the supporters of big business. £££££££

It is essential to realise that the Earth is not protected by law against rape. The preservation laws are firmly and deliberately so. Tear down a 400 year old oak and plant an acorn. If Flass Vale is destroyed the people will know it is wrong. Will they say what is wrong? Will they say the law is wrong and that we should have gone outside the law to preserve Flass Vale? Flass Vale is only a part of the earth, but the earth is incomplete without it.

Love the Earth. You are She.

Chris and Rich

Campaigning by more democratic means is an official 'Flass Vale Action Group' that can be contacted at 12, 14, 24, 29 Western Hill.