This item was originally posted by Robin Taylor in August 2015 and has proved to be one of the most read posts on the blog. I will repost Part 2 at a later date.
As a member of the Walkington Parish Council and after spending over 30 years as a senior officer in planning I thought some people might be interesting to read a canter through history to see how and why this village has changed through the last half century.
After the traumas of the 2nd World War there was a national need for new housing and the Beech View estate was constructed as a matter of urgency by the old Beverley Rural District Council. No-one could envisage that council tenants in a quiet rural village would ever be car owners or that they would ever own their homes, and the result of the increased affluence of all sections of the community is apparent in the parking problems we see there today. I remember as a teenager from the war-damaged terraced streets of Hull coming up to see family friends (the Stephensons) in about 1956 and marvelling at the luxury of their home on Autherd Garth. They had lots of space, hot and cold running water, a large garden and even a bathroom with inside toilet! The whole thing was set in the countryside in a picturesque village with a pond and ducks and trees all around. The poor back streets of Hull where I lived were a million miles away from this idyll. The City Council was about to embark on a programme of demolishing the houses that Hitler had missed and shunting people off to Bransholme and the other outer estates at Bilton, Longhill and Orchard Park.
Not surprisingly, when I was about to marry in 1968 we came to look at prospects in the villages as the Hull Corporation of the time were completely disinterested in providing land for houses for private sale. Many thousands of people like us left the City to make a new life. Petrol was cheap, cars were affordable, oil fired heating was the vogue, and the rates were low in the East Riding.
Crake Wells was commenced first, followed by All Hallows and then the Shepherd Estate alongside the school. All these sites swallowed up lovely paddocks and pasture with a wealth of beautiful trees but we young people of the swinging sixties were completely oblivious to all this impact on the place. The “locals”, people like Ernie Teal, Ernie Herdsman and Cocky Drew, made us all welcome and we injected a fresh spirit to the social life of the place. Professionals, businessmen and the “upwardly mobile” revelled in the new environment that we had bought into so relatively cheaply. I still have my copy of the original brochure for the All Hallows Estate built by A.E. Jenkinson of Cottingham and my detached house overlooking the open countryside to the south was listed at £3,995. Even with a wage of only £1,000 per annum and a 25% deposit demanded, this was still affordable. Where in Walkington can newly-weds today expect to make a start as we did? How can our children hope to find their own house in the place they were born?
By this time I had moved from a position with the Planning Department in Hull to the more gentile corridors of County Hall, Beverley, as a planning officer with the old East Riding County Council and it would be in about 1972 that a development plan for the village was prepared. I remember that the Manorhouse Lane/Middlehowe Green estate for Trans-Humber Developments was the main talking point. There was a public meeting in the old village hall attended by the Chief Planning Officer himself (my boss) and this was a stormy affair packed by the new residents who did not want to see the lovely parkland covered in posh new houses. I recall thinking that there was a certain hypocrisy being displayed by some of the newcomers who wanted the village to be preserved now that they were here! The policy of the East Riding was one of development containment in the face of great pressures. There was a flood of emigrants from the City wanting to buy in Haltemprice, Beverley and the villages within easy reach of the City. A limited number of settlements were selected as being the places to which public funds would be directed to build primary schools, reinforce power supplies and provide sewerage systems and one of these was Walkington. The village limits were approved and seemed to offer generous scope for the builders.
The development of Manorhouse went on apace through the 1970’s and it was a source of complete amazement to me at the time that anyone could contemplate buying a house that cost over £8,000! Development was then postponed until a new sewerage scheme had been provided which happened in the late 1970’s and then the Ferguson Road/All Hallows extension was permitted. The village was given its promised new school (albeit in 2 phases) and the playing field was graced with a brand new pavilion to replace the antiquated timber building. A new village hall soon followed on the Main Street.
In 1974 the planning structure of the area was revolutionaised by the creation of Humberside. This meant that the East Riding County Council and its two dozen District Councils was swept away and a single planning authority of Beverley Borough Council embracing the town of Beverley, the conglomeration of Haltemrice settlements and the villages of the rural area was created. Over all this sat Humberside County as the strategic planning authority. The Structure Plan was approved and the Beverley Borough made some minor amendments to the existing local plans and the developers carried on with their plans.
Now it was the turn of Redgates. This land had been in the ownership of the Watson-Halls and part of the Walkington Hall estate running right through the centre of the village from north to south. In the 1980’s Stepney Developments obtained consent for a large number of houses to fill the paddocks where I remember the children climbing trees and the bonfires in November. A different form of layout was secured here and parts of the site were designed to be more “village” in format with block paved access roads and a real mixture of house types. Thankfully the main house was acquired by a millionaire who relished spending a fortune on establishing his privacy and keeping the heart of the Hall and its wooded grounds well preserved. Redgates was then followed by the West Mill Rise development after the removal of the farmstead that had existed there off West End for centuries.
In 1996 the planning system was again turned on its head locally by the abolition of the 2-tier system and Humberside County and Beverley Borough both disappeared. This was a kick too much for me and I took redundancy! The result was that a new East Riding Council was set up charged with the complete planning function, strategic and local issues and handling all planning applications for one of the biggest authorities in England. It was a tall order in anyone’s book and there was no doubt that the Parish and Town Councils would need to be on the ball if the local voice was to be heard at all.
By the start of the new Millennium Walkington had been transformed from a sleepy rural retreat to thriving, vibrant community which was in great demand as a place to set up home. House prices were still rising steeply despite the vagaries of the national economic climate and the limits that had been set for the boundaries of the place back in the early 1970’s had now been reached.
Beverley had been similarly transformed through the pedestrianisation of its centre and the sweeping away of extensive dereliction in the area where the bus station now sits, and was being developed up to its approved limits after the construction of by-passes to the north and south. All of the surrounding villages were also suffering from a development “feeding frenzy” but then came an unexpected complete international economic collapse and the building business ground to a shuddering halt all over the world.
From the depths of this economic disaster a new Conservative Government came to power promising austerity and a firm commitment to ensure that the country would be led out of the doldrums by the housebuilding industry and blaming planning restrictions for the extreme demand for new housebuilding that now prevailed in all of the more prosperous parts of the UK. The East Riding was included in this happy category. In May 2015 the Conservative Government was returned with a clear majority and a determination that planning authorities in the UK would be instructed to provide plenty of land in their areas for development or otherwise their Inspectors would grant planning consents on Appeal over their heads.
What would the East Riding Council do and what would it mean for Walkington?
TO BE CONTINUED