'Don't sacrifice our village to save stately home' say residents of one of North Yorkshire's most historic places

Residents have urged planners to stop the owners of a North York Moors stately home, which is said to be the final resting place of Oliver Cromwell, from “sacrificing” their village to secure the future of the historic property.

By Stuart Minting, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Monday, 18th May 2020, 11:25 am
Updated Monday, 18th May 2020, 11:26 am

Householders in Coxwold have claimed Newburgh Priory’s housing development plans, which its owners say are essential to generate funds to maintain the grade I listed Tudor priory, would spoil the character of the Domesday Book village and increase the risk of flooding to their homes and the village hall.

The village, best known as the residence of 18th century Tristram Shandy novellist the Reverend Laurence Sterne, is one of the most historic in North Yorkshire, and lies eight miles south-west of Helmsley, on the edge of the national park.

The former Augustinian Priory, which was founded on land granted by William the Conqueror and sold by Henry VIII for £1,062 in 1562, has been passed down the Wombwell family for centuries and is now in need of significant repairs.

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The village of Coxwold

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To provide the finances to secure the future of the 12th century estate, the family hope to expand visitor accommodation and create a function suite for weddings, parties and corporate events in redundant buildings, works for which Hambleton District Council approved earlier this year.

To fund that work the estate has proposed four housing developments, including two in nearby Coxwold, one of which is an affordable housing scheme, while the other seeks to develop a grassed parcel of land in the village conservation area, opposite the village hall for four ‘principal residence’ homes.

Many residents of the aid such housing schemes were sorely needed in the area to attract young families to live there, strengthen the community and reverse population decline in the national park.

Owner Stephen Wombwell inside Newburgh Priory

Resident Dr Hilary Arksey said: “In principle I support the development as to continue thriving, the village needs new blood. This would bring in new residents, hopefully of a younger age group.”

But in papers submitted to the North York Moors National Park Authority over the application, numerous villagers have objected to the plan as they fear building on a field will increase the number and intensity of flooding events on the area around the proposed development site off Byland Road.

Resident Simon Le Gassicke said: “The proposals will severely damage the appearance of our village, creating an abrupt entrance to an urban area.

“There has been considerable growth of our village in recent decades and development is now near saturation.

Newburgh Priory

"Although I appreciate the advantages of proposed development of Newburgh Priory I am not sure Coxwold needs to be sacrificed rather than seek an alternative form of finance.”

In a report to the authority’s planning committee, officers said while residents had submitted “substantial evidence regarding previous flooding events”, following the local flood authority helping the applicant to overcome issues, the scheme was not believed to exacerbate flooding.

Recommending the plan for approval, officers said the affordable housing and ‘principal residence’ schemes would benefit the local community, provide funding for essential repairs of a designated heritage asset and “would not harm the character and setting of the village of Coxwold or its conservation area”.

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