Residents of Captain Cook's home village of Great Ayton fear new housing development could destroy its heritage

Residents of Captain Cook’s boyhood village have claimed its historic value remains at risk despite a plan by an organisation created to protect its heritage being refused.

Great Ayton residents said they are preparing for developers to appeal against Hambleton Council’s refusal of a proposal to build up to 30 homes on land close to the Grade I-listed 12th-century All Saints Church, the graveyard and Ayton Hall, which are important heritage sites with connections to the explorer.

Read More

Read More
Stokesley farmers' struggle to build up their stock on rented land across three ...

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The developer behind the proposal, the Herbert Mawer Charitable Trust, exists to preserve a collection of fine and decorative art and antiques, and for the display of the collection at Sion Hill Hall, Kirby Wiske, near Thirsk.

Great Ayton

The trust had stated “the intention is to create a development of exceptional design and quality which would blend with, rather than detract from, the setting of the conservation area” off Skottowe Crescent, named after the family who paid for James Cook to attend the Postgate School in 1704 and for James’s father to buy a plot of land to build a cottage.

Despite this, dozens of residents and Great Ayton Parish Council said the housing development would detract from historic settings, such as the graveyards where James Cook’s mother and siblings are buried and Ayton Hall, where the seafarer stayed on return from his first voyage.

Ahead of councillors narrowly rejecting the proposal as they considered the public benefits did not outweigh the harm it would cause, Historic England had also objected, saying the development would neither preserve or enhance the special interest of the church, Grade II*-listed Ayton Hall, or the character and appearance of Great Ayton Conservation Area.

A decision notice issued by the council also states: “The application site is located outside of development limits. It is considered that the exceptional case for development through the provision of affordable housing has not been made as it has not been shown that the housing need could not be met in another settlement in the district.

“In addition, the draft allocation in the Emerging Local Plan is to be withdrawn to ensure that the plan is sound.”

After the decision, residents behind a campaign to stop the development said they were convinced there would be an appeal before the site was removed from Hambleton Council’s Local Plan potential areas for development and the village heritage remained at risk.

Chair of Great Ayton Parish Council Coun John Fletcher said the authority had supported the residents, who took great pride in their village’s association with Captain Cook, in their objections to the proposal.

He said: “People come to the village to experience Captain Cook’s Schoolroom Museum, the garden, the obelisk, walks, statues. As a parish council we haven’t had any issue with safeguarding heritage until this proposal.

“I don’t think there is an appetite for more development in Great Ayton. It is a very compact village an any further developments of any scale would see sustainability issues. We don’t have the shops to serve any new development and those living there are more likely to go to places like Stokesley and Colby Newham to do their shopping, so the village doesn’t really benefit at all. The village’s roads are already impacted by traffic and any development would cause even more difficulties.”