Update on Acklam Hall 31st July 2014

The road is taking shape now at Acklam Hall, but unfortunately the pond is looking neglected. The nesting birds are having trouble foraging for food as the water is so badly polluted. I have been told by the council that this is due to a lack of maintenance/dredging/poor drainage and a lack of tree management. The clearance of the pond will likely tie in with drainage work to the avenue of trees. The trees will be pruned and crowned but this is likely to occur later in the development. The council have said they will investigate the state of the pond is not due to the development. However, I think it is unacceptable that it could potentially be left to ruin for months. In the meantime the wildlife suffers and the public are unable to take their children to feed the ducks. I have also asked that ANY work to the land to the North (where the medieval village and 10m moat are located) should be overseen by an archaeologist.

As a group, we have recently met with Catherine Dewer from English Heritage who gave us lots of help and advice and answered a lot of questions as to why they went along with the plans for Acklam Hall (Despite objecting initially in 2010/2011). English Heritage have made recommendations about materials and design, sadly these recommendations have not been incorporated in the final designs. However, we have been assured that they will continue to be consulted about the plans and any future recommendations will be taken into account.

While English Heritage agreed that alternatives may have been possible if looked into by the council (Heritage Lottery Fund etc.) as development was the only proposal on the table, they believe it does secure a viable future for the hall. Our group think that the future of the hall is still questionable, but accept English Heritage’s response and appreciated a meeting with them. We also were given advice on how to further the Hands on Middlesbrough campaign to protect heritage and green space and look at ways the public can help shape how Middlesbrough continues to grow and develop.

On the 24th July we attended a public meeting at Outwood, chaired by Acklam Community Council. This meeting was about public access. Public access is something that our group flagged up at the protest on the 17th May 2014, when we learned that access was at the discretion of the developer. We have all fought hard and attended meetings with the council and the Mayor. Thankfully we have a positive result: Public access is being formalised for the front of the hall, around the pond and to the front of the hall via the road. Also along East wood and West wood.

At a meeting with the conservation officer, we learned that a blanket tree preservation order was to be placed on all remaining trees. Again, this is great news.

A lot has been achieved in a short space of time. We continue as a group to try and raise awareness about Acklam Hall and the continued threat to our green space and heritage sites. While we have nothing against housing development, we believe some places (especially those cherished by communities, listed buildings, buildings on a local list, or conservation areas) should be protected for future generations to enjoy. A more creative approach should be employed as to how we can use heritage sites as assets, our green space as a little piece of calm in an otherwise hectic world and overall look how we can develop and regenerate Middlesbrough for the better, for the people who live here.

Stop the East Middlesbrough Corridor

Since the 1960s, Middlesbrough and Redcar & Cleveland Borough Councils have sought an alternative route into Middlesbrough town centre from the south, in order to alleviate congestion on the existing road traffic infrastructure – the East Middlesbrough Transport Corridor (also known as the Marton Motorway, the East Middlesbrough Bypass, or the East Middlesbrough Relief Road).

The proposed route starts at the A171 Swan’s Corner Roundabout at Nunthorpe, cuts north west across the field there to Rothesay Grove and skirts around Hambledon Hill, crossing the Esk Valley Railway Line and connecting to Stainton Way. It was also proposed that a northwards connection would follow the eastern side of the railway line from Stainton Way to the A174 Parkway, B1380 Ladgate Lane and A1085 Longlands Road.

The main objection to this has been the detrimental impact it would have on the Ormesby Hall Estate, which is owned by the National Trust and was badly done to by the creation of the Parkway 30 years ago. Other problems would be the lack of space to build a new junction with the Parkway, in between the full junction at the A172 Stokesley Road and the half-junction at the A171 Ormesby Bank, the need for a bridge over the railway line at Stainton Way and the rebuilding of the existing bridge across the Parkway.

By 2004, Middlesbrough Council decided that it only wanted the section from Swan’s Corner to the Parkway developed to relieve congestion on Dixons Bank and Ormesby Bank/Cargo Fleet Lane, this shortened version is now referred to as the East Cleveland Gateway. The National Trust, the Highways Agency, Network Rail and the Government Office for the North East all objected to the proposal, as did the residents of Ormesby and Nunthorpe. In 2005, a report for Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council’s Planning Officer concluded:

The recommended option is to rescind all proposals to construct a new road in the East Middlesbrough Transport Corridor. There is no realistic possibility of a route ever being constructed and, consequently, reserving the transport corridor creates unnecessary blight on many properties in the area. It is, therefore, recommended that all proposals should be rescinded and that the corridor should no longer be safeguarded for future transport development in the Local Development Framework.

However, after another joint investigation by the two neighbouring councils in 2008, Middlesbrough Council agreed with the recommendation from the resulting report that:

There is an absolute strategic need for a package of measures to reduce congestion and improve accessibility and it is important to identify and protect the East Middlesbrough Transport Corridor within the respective Local Development Frameworks of Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland councils.

Mayor Mallon said, “My position and that of this council is… that we want to see a bypass built as soon as possible. It is clear the project would assist the transport infrastructure and economic viability of the Middlesbrough area as a whole.” Prior to this, Mallon had even suggested that the local authority boundaries be redrawn to give Middlesbrough control over the whole of the corridor route. However, Redcar and Cleveland Council now plan to build 115 houses on the land at Swan’s Corner that had been earmarked for the corridor.

The Middlesbrough Local Plan from November 2013 makes a reference to “a new link road from Ladgate Lane to Longlands Road [that] has the potential to reduce congestion on Marton Road.” This is now being built as the Prissick Relief Road, running from Ladgate Lane, through all the new housing developments on the Prissick side of Marton Road, to James Cook University Hospital. The new £2.2m railway station at the hospital will also reduce traffic by providing “an alternative means of access to one of the area’s largest employment sites and other surrounding developments, which are located along a busy transport corridor.”

Middlesbrough and Redcar & Cleveland Councils are now “involved in numerous talks via the Localism Act (Duty to Cooperate) regarding the impact of plans, and… are discussing transport solutions and benefits to both Councils.” This mainly involves the introduction of a Park and Ride scheme at Nunthorpe.

So now the councils are focussed on building houses on every bit of available land, the transport corridor has gone on the back burner. Middlesbrough Council have recently announced the removal of protection of the route, saying that it is not deliverable, due to the building of houses at Swan’s Corner. It seems that for the moment, the new road at Prissick, a park and ride scheme and improvements to rail links are all that the local councils are prepared to do to relieve traffic congestion.

However, the East Middlesbrough Transport Corridor is not dead. How long will it be, with all the new housing developments planned by both councils, about 11,000 new homes in total in the next 15 years, before the Corridor is again put forward as a solution to the town’s transport problems? There is still provision in Redcar & Cleveland’s plan to build new houses at Swan’s Corner for a route through to Stainton Way. Then all you would need would be a link from Stainton Way, via the Esk Valley Line route, to Ladgate Lane. This would then link with a Prissick Relief Road that was extended to the Longlands and the corridor would finally exist. I hope that for the sake for the Ormesby Hall Estate this never happens.