Oathie Sykes: Traveller family's plan to create home near to 14th Century Yorkshire castle causes outcry

An ambition to create a permanent home for an extended Romany family close to a favourite residence of Richard III and Henry VIII has sparked an outcry.

Scores of residents in the Sheriff Hutton area have called on Ryedale District Council to reject a proposal to create a traveller site, including eight caravans, an amenity building and a treatment plant on Cornborough Road, near the 14th century Sheriff Hutton Castle.

The planning application by Oathie Sykes is seeking consent to develop a three-hectare plot of farmland currently being converted into a dog breeding centre, which the authority gave permission for in 2019.

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The planning documents state Mr Sykes’ family, including his wife, three children and their families, had found living on the council’s Tara Park site at Malton “intolerable” due to the antisocial behaviour of neighbouring residents.

Sheriff Hutton Castle

It states: “There is apparently no control of fly-tipping, raves, loud music playing, rat infestation and intolerable mixed tenants with threats of violence and total disregard of the Covid-19 regulations.”

“Consequently, there was a desperate need to find elsewhere to live.”

The documents state as Tara Park is the only authorised Traveller site in Ryedale district and there being an “absence of any adequate family sites available within the district”, the family had no option but to move to the Cornborough Road site.

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The papers add: “The family are well known by Ryedale District Council due to the families difficulty in finding a place to settle. The families have a total of some 11 children all needing health care and stability in schooling.”

While one couple living opposite the proposed site have welcomed the plan, scores of residents have objected to it, with some claiming a traveller site in the village would “totally ruin rural peace” in an unspoilt area.

In its objection, Sheriff Hutton Parish Council has highlighted how the site would be visible for miles around and that a previous application for domestic use of this site was refused as it harmed views, particularly from the castle.

Residents said they felt traveller sites in Malton and York had excellent facilities and “moving the problem to a more isolated area is not the answer”.

One objector stated: “The fabulously calming surrounding Rydale countryside should not be jeopardised by any part of the plans outlined. Granting permission to any part of this irrational planning application will negatively impact the lives of those who live in the neighbouring property – who maintain their land to manicured perfection, in keeping with the natural beauty which surrounds them.”

Other residents said they believed the village school and doctors’ surgery would struggle to cope, that local roads were “already groaning at the seams” and that “the travellers site would increase crime and devalue house prices in this area”.

One resident wrote: “There is ongoing national news on the impact a local traveler site does to personal safety and valuables which we have all worked so hard for. I feel happy every day knowing I live in such a safe environment and this opens us up to trouble. Please look to finding another site further away from here.”