MORE than 100 protestors turned out for a demonstration to stop homes being built in the grounds of a listed building they consider their town's own "Downton Abbey".

The demonstration, which organisers said was to highlight what was happening to Middlesbrough's heritage sites and community spaces, saw protestors walk down the avenue of trees outside AcklamHall, the town's only Grade One-listed building.

Taylor Wimpey has won planning approval from Middlesbrough Council to build 56 luxury four and five-bedroom homes in the grounds of the Hall to fund a £2m transformation into a wedding venue with small spa, gym, conference rooms and restaurant.

Demonstration organiser Scarlet Pink said: "We want to raise awareness of the fact that Middlesbrough's very own Downton Abbey is going to be turned into a Little Wynyard.

"The Mayor Ray Mallon came and he was very understanding about our views, but he said this is the way to fund the restoration.

"But local people feel passionately about the Hall and our other open spaces. Look what we did at Eston Nab - we raised £15,000 from the public to buy it. Building houses is not the only option and everything should have been looked at.

"With enough public support we aim to get the council to realise that a land's worth should not be measured only in its commercial value, but in its value to communities."

However at a public meeting earlier this year about the plans, many people who attended were in favour of the scheme.

Mrs Pink said plans for an access road to the site go before the council on Tuesday and she hoped the scheme could be blocked if the plans are refused.