About Darras Hall
Darras Hall was formed in 1910 by a group of forward thinking individuals who became the Trustees of the estate, and wrote a formal legally binding document known as The Trust Deed which is supported by a book of bye-laws providing guidance and rules for managing the estate by an elected committee of 15 owners.
The total area is approximately 925 acres which was originally divided into 5 acre plots and then in time was subdivided into various plot sizes depending on approved development with the minimum plot size allowed being 0.25 acres as laid down in the Trust Deed. The Trustees rightly envisaged that the estate would be developed and we now have 2586 properties [which is close to maximum], which are serviced by a small enthusiastic shopping centre in the middle of the estate.
The Trust Deed principles and bye-laws which are followed very strictly by the committee have been challenged unsuccessfully in court a number of times which proves that they are standing the test of time and achieving the objectives of the founders set 100 years ago thus maintaining a countryside environment of trees and openness. However, it is important to mention that the committee have the legal right of total discretion as laid down in the Trust Deed and they can also review the Byelaws to suit the needs of present day living requirements. There has been a recent up dating of the byelaws, which now clearly define the ratio of plot size to building dimensions so that over development of a plot is avoided.
Finally the estate is going through a period of change, as it is clear that the smaller and older houses on the estate do not meet the needs of present day family requirements. We are therefore seeing many alterations to existing properties and also demolish and re-build .The committee are kept very busy by processing well over 200 planning applications a year ensuring that they comply with the regulations thus protecting a very desirable area to live in.
Welcome to the Darras Hall Estate Committee website. We have invested in a brand new platform which heralds the beginning of a new era of communication, ensuring that we are able to provide updates, noticeboards, announcements, events and important information with the Owners of Darras Hall.
We very much want this communication to be a two-way street and allow us to bring how we engage into the 21st Century, whilst of course keeping within the requirements set out by The Trust Deed and important Bylaws. We have designed and built the website to facilitate the exchange of information both ways between us. This website has the capability to evolve and increase its functionality as our requirements and imaginations see fit.
The website will support:-
• Improved community involvement
• Updates on events and information which is key to our Owners
• Greater awareness of Darras Hall as a desirable place to live
• Useful information for potential Owners and current Owners in navigating the Bylaws and Trust Deed
• Frequently asked questions section
• Advice and Guidance for planning and building on the Estate
We look forward to your support in building this gateway to a more open, trusting and transparent future for relationships between Owners and the Committee.
The Darras Hall Estate, adjacent to the old village of Ponteland, northwest of Newcastle, consists of about 2,500 private residences and is unique in inception and method of administration. Apart from a small shopping area, a garage, a church, and a first school, there are no public services; no industry is permitted on the estate other than a few market gardens.
Historically the name Darras probably derived from D’ Arreynes, believed to be a Norman family who held land here in the 12th century. The present Darras Hall is a typical Northumbrian farmhouse dating from 1830. ‘Hall’ is a very common name for a farm in the county and does not necessarily imply a large mansion.
In 1890, when many people lived in towns and cities in houses without gardens, Joseph Whiteside Wakinshaw and a few friends formed the Northern Allotment Society, with the object of leasing or buying land on the outskirts of Newcastle, to be sold on to its members who paid a nominal sum to join the society. The first purchase was Red Cow Farm, situated in the area now known as Westerhope. This land was split into plots on which the members could build houses and grow produce to sell in the city and thus provide an income. Market gardening and farming were the only commercial activities allowed on the estate. Joseph Wakinshaw’s own house (which later became a public house) was called Runnymede.
Similar developments took place in subsequent years, culminating in the largest in 1907 when three farms, Darras Hall, Little Callerton and Little Callerton Moor, a total of 1,025 acres, were purchased.
The new Darras Hall Estate, as it was named, was split up into 197 lots of about five acres each, and sold by auction to members. The sale realised some £20,000 more than the original cost, sufficient to cover the cost of roads, fencing, water supply and sewerage. One of the original nine roads, laid out on a grid pattern, was named Runnymede Road. Drainage of the heavy clay land presented problems and a call was made to the owners for extra funding. (This old problem is still with us in the Ponteland area.)
Plots ranged in price from £35 to £150, and were soon to be broken down into building sites, mainly on road frontages, where services were available. Lack of public transport meant that progress was initially slow, but, the railway line to Ponteland having been opened in 1905, the trustees offered a stretch of land through the estate enabling the Eastern Railway Company to build a branch line to a terminus in the centre of the estate, where a station was built close to the area earmarked for shops etc in Broadway. However, insufficient passengers led to the closure of the line, together with the Ponteland line, to passenger traffic in 1929. The trackbed reverted to the Darras Hall Estate Committee and has been designated a public bridleway. The station building, last used by the United Reformed church, was demolished in 1993 to allow for the erection of 20 bungalows for elderly residents of Darras Hall.
The arrival of buses after the First World War, and a greater number of people owning motor cars, assisted development of the estate, but it was the 1950s before full development took place. Remaining frontages and ‘back-lands’ were developed, often by big building firms, with the resources to lay roads and utilities, splitting up the costs over a number of properties. By 1990 development had filled up nearly all available land and now only rarely does a building site come onto the market with a price tag which may be some 10,000 times its original cost.
The Estate is run by the Darras Hall Estate Committee, whose members are elected at the Annual General Meeting of owners, from an office in Broadway. Trustees have been appointed since the inception of the Estate and they hold in trust several blocks of land, including the freehold of the shopping centre and of the United Reformed Church, the recreation ground behind Middle Drive and the Bridleway, on behalf of those owners who have signed the Deed of Accession to the Trust Deed. All plans for new building, alterations or additions have to be placed before the Committee for Covenant Consent, regardless of whether approved by the local planning authority, to ensure that all is in compliance with the conditions of the Trust Deed. This sets out all that may or may not be done on the Estate, and must be signed by every owner before he or she can vote at the Annual General Meeting of owners held every March. A small annual charge is made on all owners in order to cover the running costs of the Estate and necessary maintenance work.
Tree-lined roads and large attractive gardens surrounding well-spaced houses present a very pleasant outlook. This is borne out by the demand for property ‘on Darras Hall’, with often above-average values. It is a very popular location for people whose work involves moving into the area.
With all the facilities of Ponteland; easy access to the International Airport, only two miles away; the great and historic city of Newcastle, eight miles away; the huge shopping and leisure facilities of the Metro Centre only minutes away by car; to say nothing of the beautiful scenery of Northumberland, of which it is part, then Darras Hall has indeed much to commend it.
Joseph Wakinshaw was a very forward thinking man of his time and to him lies the credit for the existence of the Darras Hall Estate.
The village information above is taken from The Northumberland Village Book, written by members of the Northumberland Federation of Women’s Institutes and published by Countryside Books
When purchasing properties on Darras Hall Estate, it is highly recommended that Solicitors/Conveyencers carry out a Search with the Estate Office. This shows any outstanding rent/service charge, planning applications made or breaches of covenant against the property. The applicant will also be furnished with a copy of the Byelaws, Abstract of the Trust Deed and the Certificate of Accession to the Deed of Accession to the Darras Hall Trust Deed. In order to facilitate a search being processed by the Estate office, you will need request it via email to, email@example.com at which point bank details can be provided and payment made via BACS, or alternatively, send a written request with a cheque for £50.00.
If you are thinking about buying a house on Darras Hall Estate and/or modifying the property please be aware that your development will need to comply with the Darras Hall Trust Deed and its Byelaws. This is in addition to satisfying the normal planning and building regulations and your Solicitor/Conveyancer should make you aware of these conditions before you purchase the property.
Most residents have no difficulty in working with architects to meet all the requirements. The team working in the Estate Office and Committee members are available and willing to answer questions from existing or future residents to try to ensure planning applications are successful.
The Committee is often faced with challenging decisions where, for example, proposals are presented for large or double storey developments on streets which are primarily small bungalows. Additionally there are restrictions with regard to the size of the property in relation to the plot and the distances to boundaries on all sides. In addition to contravening Byelaws, plans are scrutinised by neighbours and the Committee have to take on board their observations/objections which can also result in the application being refused.
The Committee are appointed by the residents of Darras Hall to maintain the Trust Deed and its Byelaws. We would be failing in our duty, both to existing and future owners, if we did not pay proper regard to the Trust Deed, the Byelaws or how a development may impinge on an existing resident’s enjoyment of their property.
Link to Byelaws
ONE of the most frequently asked questions is why the owners of Darras Hall have to pay an annual rent to the Estate Committee, and what do they get in return?
The simple answer is that the obligation of owners to pay a yearly charge is one of the conditions laid down in the Trust Deed, which everyone is obliged to acknowledge and abide by if they wish to buy a property and live on Darras Hall.
This lays down the rules and regulations that were designed with the sole intention of making Darras Hall a highly desirable place to live. They are intended to prevent overdevelopment, eyesores, poor maintenance and a host of other things that would lessen the inherent attractiveness of the area.
The 15 unpaid members of the Committee meet regularly, notching up an average of 60 hours each month, to maintain the virtues of the Estate and to prevent breaches of the covenants that were created to safeguard its uniqueness. However, we live in a democracy and it has to be appreciated that one person’s eyesore is another’s architectural masterpiece. If some people had their way every house on the Estate would be in the traditional styles of Georgian, Victorian or Elizabethan whilst others would favour monuments to modernity.
The Committee strives to strike a balance, and of course everyone has a right to appeal. Nonetheless, the Committee prevents developments that are universally objected to, such as high-rise flats, public houses, fish and chip shops and a host of others.
The Committee oversees hundreds of planning applications to alter existing properties, some of which would have been generally regarded as ruining the appearance of the Estate if they had been granted as submitted, without revisions in accordance with the Committee’s recommendations.
Although the members of the Committee carry out these duties on a purely voluntary basis and receive no payment or expenses, there are naturally costs incurred in the commission of the work. There has to be an office, which needs to be lit, heated and staffed to handle the masses of correspondence, telephones to answer residents’ queries, and a room equipped with basic facilities for the Committee to meet each month to consider planning applications.
The Estate Committee also has responsibility for the upkeep of the Bridlepath, the Grasslands and some other estate owned land, which incurs cost too. Outlays each year are generally in the region of £2,400 for office maintenance and repairs, a similar amount to replace waste bins on the Bridlepath, £4,800 for tree work to keep areas safe, and £12,000 for land maintenance, waste bin emptying and cuttings clearance.
The Estate Committee does not make a profit, with any residue being merely the small surplus between expenditure and income from the annual rent charge, which is calculated as the absolute minimum to enable the Committee to carry out its duties on behalf of residents.
The main threat to our native red squirrel population is the invasion of the grey squirrel which was introduced from America. The much larger grey squirrel competes for food and habitat and its growing population is spreading across the UK. The grey squirrel carries a virus (Squirrel Pox), which is deadly to the red squirrel population.
There are a few things you can do to help red squirrels survive and thrive in Darras Hall.
Drive Carefully – road kill accounts for too many red squirrel deaths in Darras Hall. Slow down and be vigilant when driving especially in the mornings when the squirrels may be on the ground foraging for food.
Feed them – putting red squirrel boxes in gardens and making sure there is a regular supply of appropriate food will help them survive. Squirrels forage in gardens for nuts and seeds. Hazel nuts, Sun Flower seeds, Beech nuts and Pine are all favourites.
If you’re thinking of planting a tree then why not make it a Hazel or Beech tree and help increase the natural availability of food in gardens for the future.
North East Red Squirrels is a charity set up to promote the conservation of native red squirrels population in their natural habitat across the North East of England. If you would like to know more or get involved in one of their projects, please contact them Here.
The photo gallery section will provide you with pictures of Darras Hall, Ponteland and surrounding areas. There are many changes taken place and it would be nice to see and document these changes on the site. We’d like you to share any photographs you have of Darras Hall etc. it might be your own before and after pictures of your own development or photographs you’ve taken around the estate and village.
If you would like to share your photographs then we would love to add them to the site.
Send your pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org
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