A lands worth should not always be measured in terms of commercial value,
its value to communities should be worth more.
Hands on Middlesbrough held a peaceful protest on the 17th May 2014 to raise awareness about the plans to sell off the grounds of Middlesbrough’s only Grade I listed building; Acklam Hall for the development of 56 executive homes and a health village. While we are unable to stop the plans going ahead we want to raise awareness that a listed building, conservation area and tree preservation orders should offer actual protection and houses should not be the only option available to restore a Grade I listed building to its former glory.
The housing development has begun and as a group we are dismayed that the council did not look at alternative means of funding the restoration of the hall. Development was deemed the only option to fund its restoration and an opportunity was missed to utilise a magnificent heritage asset for the benefit of the public and future generations (and attract tourism). Despite a petition and a peaceful protest, this development is going ahead and the damage to the grounds at the front of the hall has already been done, with the felling of over 200 mature trees.
Our aim for Acklam Hall is to secure a number of conditions that we would like the council to meet:
- Guaranteed public access to the woodlands and front of the hall
- Assurances that the front is protected against any further development
- Assurances that the land north of the hall (currently playing fields) is not going to be developed
- Increased range and methods utilised for public consultation
- Individual preservation orders for the remaining trees
- 200+ trees to be replanted either on the Acklam Hall site, or as a minimum in Acklam
- “Landscaping” to be sensitive to the wildlife and surroundings
- Recommendations for bats, birds and wildlife to be implemented
- Any development work (particularly on the land to the North of the hall) to be overseen by an archaeologist
As a group we are not against development, quite the opposite! We want our town to grow and flourish and this will hopefully encourage people to stay here, instead of moving away.
While we agree development is important for the success of the town, we believe that town planning should be community lead. We are concerned about the future of Middlesbrough’s heritage and green spaces, and think residents deserve a say in how Middlesbrough continues to grow and develop. More effective consultation from the Council is needed and people should speak out and work together to protect the places and spaces they care about.