Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Scouts want to extend hut as child numbers grow

BENSON scouts want to extend their hut in order to cater for more children.

The extension would be temporary while the group plans new premises.

The hut, which is more than 100 years old, is on land in Littleworth Road owned by Benson Parish Council.

Martin Lock, leader of the 1st Benson scout group, told a council meeting that the beaver and cub sections had grown and now had about 16 children each.

He said: “We’re now bursting at the seams and we’re turning people away. If we don’t do something now it will stifle the growth of the group.”

Mr Lock said the group would fund the extension and would hire professionals to construct it on the space currently occupied by a storage shed. It would most likely be a pre-fabricated structure.

In the longer term, the group wanted a “more permanent solution” by building a new hut on the same site or at Bertie West Field.

Mr Lock said: “Our hall has been there for many years. It’s a good, well-used facility and we could buy ourselves some breathing space by building this temporary extension. It would be done by a builder and not us bodging it.”

Councillors unanimously supported the plans.

Chairman Bill Pattison said: “The scouts wish to provide themselves with an extension to the scout hut so that in the long term they can look into a replacement.”

The Bertie West Field was bequeathed to the council by Mr West following his death in 1979 on the condition that it was used as a children’s playground.

In 2012 the council drew up plans for a new scout hut on the land but these were scrapped after opposition from residents who were concerned about access to the site and the threat of more traffic.

The council said people would reach the site on foot from Littleworth Path and that parking in Littleworth Road would be discouraged.

However, in January 2013 it withdrew the application.

At the time, then council chairman Jon Fowler said: “There was quite a lot of opposition from residents in Horseshoes Lane and South Oxfordshire District Council had indicated it was likely to refuse planning permission so we decided to withdraw the application.

“The council would still like to see the land put to use as per Mr West’s bequest and we’ll be looking to work with the residents of Horseshoes Lane in order to find a mutually agreeable solution that benefits the children of the village and local residents.”

The existing hut is the only remaining one in Oxfordshire to be visited by Lord Baden Powell, who founded the boy scout movement in the 1900s.

It is used on three days a week — by the scouts on a Monday evening and by the cubs and beavers on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

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