A CONTROVERSIAL sale of a former police headquarters to an outdoor activity company has concluded with a £2.5million deal.

Newby Wiske Hall - the former North Yorkshire Police HQ - was put up for sale in 2017 and when it emerged that children's holiday company PGL was the frontrunner to buy the building, nearby residents launched a tenacious campaign opposing the sale.

The residents argued that the 17th century manor house, situated in the centre of a quiet village, was an unsuitable location for an activity centre accomodating hundreds of children each week.

They expressed concern about noise levels, traffic generated by coachloads of children arriving at the hall and whether residents would still be permitted to access a well-used dog walking path in the grounds.

The Northern Echo:

Residents formed a protest group to fight the PGL plans

Judicial reviews, revised planning decisions and other legal issues followed in the residents' battle to block PGL's bid, but North Yorkshire’s Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Philip Allott has now confirmed that the sale of Newby Wiske Hall to PGL has now been completed.

Mr Allott says he is ‘delighted’ the end of the process has been reached after PGL agreed to purchase the property in 2017, paying a ten per cent deposit of £250,000.

Keith Bowe, the chairman of the residents' protest group, said that although the completion of the sale was expected, there was still determination among the villagers to ensure the PGL centre did not negatively impact their lives.

He said: "There is still a bit of fight left in the village and we will be watching their every move."

He added that there was still a feeling that residents had not been listened to over their concerns about the suitability of the hall and its grounds becoming an activity centre.

The hall's sale allowed North Yorkshire Police to move its headquarters from Newby Wiske to Northallerton’s Alverton Court in 2017 - a move which has saved taxpayers £600,000 per year ever since.

The Northern Echo:

Newby Wiske Hall

That amount has now increased to £1.1m annually due to the co-location of Northallerton Police Station and the North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service HQ at Alverton Court which is equipped with everything needed for modern policing and fire and rescue.

In May 2020, PGL asked to extend the time they had to complete the sale of Newby Wiske for a further two years and agreed to pay for the costs in maintaining the building in that time, an amount of £24,000 per month.

PCC Mr Allott says completing the sale is an important moment.

He said: “I am delighted to have finally concluded this sale which I know will be welcomed by the majority of taxpayers from across North Yorkshire.

The Northern Echo:

North Yorkshire’s Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Philip Allott

“Moving North Yorkshire Police from a historic building to a modern headquarters was the right decision which has helped transform the way the force works, allowed us to bring more services together in one place and, ultimately, has improved the service to our communities."

He added: “It has taken much longer than anyone hoped for the sale of Newby Wiske Hall to complete and I thank the community for their patience during what I know has been a challenging time.

"I wish PGL well for the future and hope that the young people, who will have the opportunity to learn and grow within the Hall and its grounds, come to love North Yorkshire just as much as we do.”

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