The Avenue of Trees was originally an avenue of Lime Trees, planted near the end of the 17th century as part of the formal gardens of Acklam Hall (circa 1683). In the storm of 1829 most of the trees came down but were quickly replaced.
It is a beautiful place much loved by the local community. The stunning view from the Hall Drive entrance draws the eye towards Acklam Hall.
The Avenue of Trees is not protected. It forms part of the Acklam Hall conservation area but does not have Listed Status or any Tree Preservation Orders placed on ancient trees.
In October (2014), Hands on Middlesbrough applied to English Heritage for the site to be designated but the application was unsuccessful. Maps were provided to prove historic significance including this map from 1716.
Unfortunately, the current circumstances of The Avenue of Trees, Acklam, do not fall into any of the three categories used by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to prioritise designation resources on those sites that are most in need of protection. Those categories are:
- Threat: any candidate for designation demonstrably under serious threat of demolition or major alteration. In this case, the Historic Landscape Assessment submitted with the planning application for the development at Acklam Hall makes it clear that the Avenue of Trees falls outside the development area. The Avenue is therefore not directly affected by the development.
- Strategic Priority: any candidate for designation of a type that is a strategic designation priority under the National Heritage Protection Plan, English Heritage’s programme of strategic work. You can find a list of this year’s projects on our website.
- Evident Significance: any building or site that possesses evident significance that makes it obviously worthy of inclusion on the National Heritage List for England. The evidence provided in your application and the Historic Landscape Assessment suggest that the Avenue of Trees is the only surviving substantially intact feature of the original designed landscape associated with Acklam Hall and is therefore not a strong candidate for designation.
English Heritage advised that: “there are other approaches to the protection of this site that you can take. Your local authority can advise you on the local designation options available, such as applying for a Tree Preservation Order, and you may wish to speak to your local Historic Environment Records Officer or conservation group for advice on such matters”.
Hands on Middlesbrough did apply to Middlesbrough Council for advise on tree preservation orders for The Avenue of Trees but was advised by a planning officer that:
The Avenue of Trees to Acklam Hall is afforded protection by way of the Acklam Hall Conservation Area and its existence on Council-owned land. A further layer of protection is brought to bear by its undoubted contribution to the setting of Acklam Hall and is this regard English Heritage would no doubt resist any removal of trees or speculative proposal for development on the area. The survey and preparation of a Tree Preservation Order on these trees would be a costly and timely exercise for the Council and ultimately a wholly unnecessary effort.
As the Acklam Hall grounds were also a conservation area, with some tree protection orders in place, and clearly a contribution to the setting of the hall itself, this response did not inspire confidence that The Avenue of Trees would be protected for future generations to enjoy.
We looked into other options, such as registering it as a Village Green, but the forms are extremely difficult for members of the community to complete.
Here is the link from the Open Spaces Society for anyone who may be interested in registering a piece of land as a village green.
NB English Heritage is now known as Historic England