How John's making Sunderland flourish

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Residents’ wishes for Elemore have been answered. What was once an unused area of the city, is now becoming a habitat of community and biodiversity.

Elemore is well on the way to its country park renovation, complete with a garden centre and a range of visitor facilities. This is all thanks to the Elemore Project Group, the council and the residents of the local community. Transforming the area into a better place for people and nature has been a key focus for ecology expert and Hetton resident, John Ellis. “I’m a keen rewilder, and my priority is making sure we don’t instil actions detrimental to nature.”


Sowing the seeds

When plans were in development for the former golf course, it was immensely important to hear from local residents. And following a community meeting, the council listened to, and acted on their desires for the space. John states, “All the residents’ wishes were agreed.”


Plans include providing opportunities for vulnerable communities, so when complete, the cafe and garden centre will be staffed by adults with physical and learning disabilities. A key focus has also been on retaining wealth in the area, so wherever possible, Elemore has, and will continue to be transformed by local suppliers and contractors.


“The nationally threatened willow tit nests here, so the site’s especially important to nature.”


A remarkable opportunity

Concentrating on the environmental opportunities this development brings, John believes, “Sunderland could be an example of best practice, with policies to improve biodiversity and carbon capture.” He describes the project as not only vital to Sunderland, but vital on a national level too. “The UK is the most nature-depleted country in Europe, and yet, the restored Durham and Sunderland coalfield areas are rich in biodiversity.” He explains, “The opportunity to make sure it remains this way, or gets even better, is extremely worthwhile.”


Highlighting the truly special nature of this site, John recounts his most memorable moment on the project so far. During his work he discovered bee orchids, flowers that mimic the appearance of female bees in order to be pollinated, which this expert had never seen before.


Nurturing Sunderland

There’s already been hundreds of shrubs and trees planted, as well as the clearing of waterways. Once complete, Elemore will be a thriving space for the local community and environment. John hopes that more people across Sunderland will help to do their part for their local environment, encouraging recycling and reducing food waste. As John says, “A greener Sunderland is a better Sunderland.”


Feeling inspired?

Take it further with these related pages and websites:

Find out more about plans for Elemore Park.

Discover other volunteering opportunities in Sunderland.

Explore more of what Sunderland has to offer.

Take a look at Sunderland’s beautiful great outdoors.