An ambitious scheme to create green energy for Harewood House by selling cottages on the 4,000 acre estate has prompted anger from families who do not want to leave the tight-knit community.
An army officer who recently returned from Afghanistan is among those facing an uncertain future after being told they will be placed on short rolling contracts until their homes are sold.
Thirty period cottages owned by the estate in the nearby Harewood village are being put on the market in phases, with several empty properties already subject to sealed bids.
Residents fear the departure of the tenants, many of whom have lived in Harewood for more than 10 years, will “rip the heart out of the village”.
Captain John Bebb, who returned from a six-month tour of Afghanistan to find his home was to be sold, urged estate officials to “show a bit of compassion and a bit of communication”.
The 46-year-old hopes to move to a nearby property in the village but says none of the other affected residents have been able to do the same.
He said: “Contractually they are doing everything by the book but if you are going to manage people then manage them by communicating. I know people who are really distressed and don’t know what to do. Some of the families have lived in this community for years and deserve at least empathy.”
Harewood House resident agent Christopher Ussher confirmed some tenants in the cottages would not have their contracts renewed. But he added: “This is like anywhere in the rental market. I have only had one letter from any tenant, I have not received any written correspondence from residents expressing concern.”