A CLOUD of uncertainty has enveloped Newby Wiske Hall and the surrounding rural area it dominates for seven years.

After being selected as Tory candidate to become North Yorkshire’s first police and crime commissioner in 2012, Julia Mulligan pledged to redeploy 450 staff and officers from the grade II listed building as it cost £820,000 a year to maintain.

The proposed move to end the close relationship the force had forged with the area south of Northallerton over 60 years immediately generated a wave of publicity.

At the time, her opponent, Labour candidate Ruth Potter warned: “It’s a grade II listed building in a conservation area and to sell it is going to be difficult. There’s nobody queuing up to buy it.”

The following year, Mrs Mulligan pressed ahead with her pledge, unveiling plans to build a new police headquarters at South Kilvington, near Thirsk, to a storm of local opposition. However, the commissioner abandoned that scheme in 2014 in favour of a proposal to share facilities with Cleveland Police.

Newby Wiske villagers concerns were heightened in 2015 when it was confirmed North Yorkshire Police would buy the former Rural Payments Agency offices in Northallerton and months later the hall was put up for sale.

In 2017, Mrs Mulligan announced after receiving “quite a few offers” she had chosen PGL as the firm would be “a very good neighbour” and its plans would have minimal impact on the environment.

Many residents of Newby Wiske and the surrounding area disagreed after PGL revealed plans to convert the mansion into a children’s holiday centre with 550 beds.

Hundreds of people, including former North Yorkshire Chief Constable Della Cannings, voiced opposition to the proposals, mainly over noise and traffic concerns.

Despite the objections, Hambleton District Council approved the plans in November 2017, only for the High Court to quash the permission six months later after finding the authority’s planning officers did not properly assess the impact on the hall and its grounds.

After the ruling, some residents who moved to the village for its tranquility claimed the “outlandish” PGL proposal had forced them to put their lives on hold as the plans had made it impossible for them to sell their homes.

They said they would welcome discussing new uses for the property with the commissioner, but vowed to fight the PGL scheme, featuring giant rope swings, zip wires, climbing walls and an extension to the lake for canoeing, kayaking and rafting, to the bitter end.

Back in 2012, Labour police commissioner candidate Ruth Potter warned: “Building on the land or converting it into flats isn’t going to be easy.

“It’s not fit for purpose, but I think my opponent is wrong to think she can do something about it almost immediately.

“There needs to be consultation with the people living nearby and the staff.”