COMMUNITY groups have been recognised for making their neighbourhoods more green and pleasant lands.

Initiative across the region from community and school gardens to proud neighbours were praised through the Royal Horticultural Society’s It’s Your Neighbourhood programme- part of the Britain in Bloom competition.

Veg Out in Barney, a scheme that grows fruit and vegetables and creates green walkways and wildlife habitats in Barnard Castle, was awarded ‘outstanding’ which is the highest accolade given.

The CAFÉ Together Project in Easington Colliery, Medomsley Community Garden and Stanley Crook Primary School Garden all achieved ‘advancing’ for work to rejuvenate outdoor spaces to grow healthy food and vegetables.

Dennis Donnini Memorial Garden in Easington Colliery, Friends of Flass Vale group, Friends of Wharton Park group and Shotton Partnership 2000 Ltd were all given ‘thriving’ awards, while Green Horizons in Ferryhill landed the ‘improving’ award.

All nine schemes had received up to £500 from Durham County Council’s community grant scheme, the deadline for 2018 funding applications is December 8.

Burnhopfield Gardening Team, Clarence's Leisure Gardens in Billingham and Saltburn Friends of the Valley Garden were among the other winners.

Pauline Walker, Durham County Council’s senior civic pride officer, said: “We’re thrilled with the hard work put in by all volunteers and community groups and the results of the IYN scheme are testament to the commitment everyone has shown in developing their environmental projects.

“There is still time for community groups to get funding for an environmental improvement scheme next year, so we urge people to apply.”

Councillor Brian Stephens, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and local partnerships, said: “It’s incredible that people have given up their precious time in volunteering and have either cleaned up, greened up or produced healthy produce for the benefit of their communities.

“Many of the schemes will provide long-lasting environmental benefits to all who live or work in, or visit these areas.

“So too will the other groups from County Durham which were recognised by the RHN– to whom we send our hearty congratulations.

“There really is a chance for everyone to get involved in improving their local environment at grassroots level and we’d encourage people to contact us if they’re interested in how.”