Character of our village ‘will be ruined by tourism scheme’

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A MAJOR tourism development in an East Riding estate village will spoil the old-fashioned character which makes it special, residents claim.

Sledmere Estate wants to convert a complex of 180-year-old farmbuildings on the estate which serves Sledmere House, which is open to the public, into a range of new facilities, including a larger art gallery, café, restaurant, garden centre and farm shop.

As part of the plans walled paddocks at Home Farm would be converted into parking and a former barn and kennels into a tourist office and bicycle hire point.

Other buildings would be converted to create more space for the Triton Gallery and the former estate sawmill converted to a garden centre.

The Grade I listed Georgian country house, set within a park landscaped by Capability Brown, is in a village where the last houses were built in the 1950s and parish councillors are worried that the main road will be urbanised, with signs and a zebra crossing outside the main entrance to Sledmere House on the “highly scenic” B1253.

The council is also unhappy about putting parking on the green field bloodstock paddocks which once formed part of the famous Sledmere Stud.

A letter from the parish council objecting said: “The residents of Sledmere are very accepting of the fact that we are a ‘public’ village during the summer months but look forward to the quieter winter period when Sledmere House is closed to the public and we get ‘our’ village back to ourselves.

“We would resist any development being open throughout the year.”

Another added: “To most people the attraction of Sledmere is that it is a village that has changed so little over the years.

“This aspect of ‘going back in time’ when passing through the village helps to keep Sledmere special.”

A villager, who did not want to be named, said they were not concerned by one-off events like Tribfest, which will see the world’s biggest tribute band and music festival taking place in the grounds of Sledmere House from August 15 to August 18.

He said: “I can see why they do want to change the farm as it was designed for agriculture 100 years ago and getting in and out of the farm now with traffic coming down the road is a nightmare.

“They have moved everything out of the sheds as they weren’t big enough for the implements of nowadays.

“But I think the general consent is that it is too big.

“In the plans they were looking for about 300 cars and 13 coaches. There are going to be more people, more cars.”

The Georgian Group described the proposals for the paddocks as “extremely insensitive”.

English Heritage and the council conservation officer now support the plans, following alterations. But English Heritage did say they regretted the new zebra crossing – needed on health and safety grounds – as it would “harm the rural and informal character of the streetscape.”

However the estate says the development will create eight full-time jobs in the first phase and will provide benefits to the wider economy, with an increase in visitors, new jobs, a knock-on for the local supply chain and “ultimately and very importantly the continued prosperity of Sledmere Estate”.

Planners agree and are recommending approval at a meeting next week. The plans will then go to the Secretary of State for a final decision.

They say the extra facilities “will no doubt mean increased traffic, visitor numbers and an extension of the tourist season and this will have an impact on some residents. This has to be balanced against the positive benefits that will accrue including local employment and to other businesses...

“Overall and on balance it is considered the benefits of the proposal outweigh the potential negative impact on the village.”