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.