Desperate villagers have turned to the government to try and cease building work on a 'contentious' and 'unsafe' housing estate they claim has destroyed the wildlife and ecology of the area. 

Those living in Great Smeaton, near Northallerton, have fiercely objected to building on the site south-west of East farm in the village, with developers getting permission for the building of five houses back in 2022. 

But North Yorkshire Council has said that it is investigating whether to see if planning conditions are being followed.

Despite campaigners consistently objecting to the building of houses, due to the destruction of ecology, natural habitat and open countryside, they were unable to halt the application.

The Northern Echo: Work next to protected lime treeWork next to protected lime tree (Image: SUBMIT)

Now, two years after the granting of the application, campaigners have called on the secretary of state for levelling up, housing and communities, Michael Gove, to intervene and has urged for a halt on the building development. 

One of the campaigners, Dr Andrew Marriott, who is an archaeologist and former soldier, is one of those who's alleging 'multiple' breaches of planning consent.

Dr Marriott, who has co-signed the letter to Mr Gove alongside concerned Great Smeaton villagers, has also asked the government minister to commission an inquiry. 

In the letter, Dr Marriott and the other campaigners say: " Following multiple breaches of planning consent, unsafe working practices and the repeated failures of North Yorkshire Council to take appropriate enforcement action, we are driven to request that you kindly intervene to halt works on a highly controversial building development on the outskirts of the village of Great Smeaton.

The Northern Echo: Protected Trees before works Protected Trees before works (Image: SUBMIT)

Alongside the complaints from the campaigners, they highlight the hazards through a hedgerow gap on an embankment above the main road A167, which becomes busy when receiving traffic diverted from the A1(M) or A19.

The campaigners have also been critical of North Yorkshire Council for 'compromising on safety' when it comes to granting the site, alongside ecology levels, which include Great Crested Newts (GCN) and nesting birds, which are native to the area.

The letter added: "The poor standards adopted by the Council and the developers are exemplified in the mandated Construction Management Plan (CMP) for the site, according to which Great Smeaton lies in the neighbouring County Durham.

The Northern Echo: Green Crested NewtGreen Crested Newt (Image: SUBMIT)

"The various authorities have compromised safety, the local ecology and the physical and historic environments.

"Initial planning approval was contingent upon a range of ecological protective measures, mainly, but not exclusively, regarding Great Crested Newts (GCN) and nesting birds.

"To address local concerns and those raised by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, the Preliminary Ecological Report (PEA) presented on behalf of the developers was revised in 2021 to include a suite of protective ecological measures."

Alongside its other criticisms, campaigners have urged developers of the site, Palladian Homes, to engage with ecological groups.

The letter concluded:  The developers and planning authority have been alerted to the presence of Green Crested Newts close to the site but to no avail.

"Given the number and scope of breaches and the poor behaviour of those involved, we believe a restoration of both the site and the process to the status quo would be entirely appropriate. 

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    In response to the concerns of campaigners and villagers, North Yorkshire Council has confirmed that it is closely monitoring the site to check developers are following site conditions. 

    North Yorkshire Council’s assistant director of planning, Trevor Watson, said: “When any planning permission is granted, we will keep a close check to make sure that conditions for a development are being followed.

    “Planning permission for five new homes on the edge of Great Smeaton was granted on August 22, 2022, and both ecology and highway safety were considered during the process.

    “Since construction on site has started, concerns have been raised by the local community, particularly relating to road safety and ecology.

    “Our planning enforcement team has been investigating to ensure that the ecology and highway conditions under the planning permission are complied with.

    “We are continuing to monitor the situation.”

    Palladian Homes were contacted for a comment and didn't respond for comment in the deadline we gave to them.