Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Scouts want to extend hut before moving to new one

PLANS have been submitted by Benson scouts to extend their hut in order to cater for more children.

The hut, which is on land in Littleworth Road owned by Benson Parish Council, is almost 80 years old.

The extension would be temporary while it plans new premises.

An application submitted to South Oxfordshire District Council says: “The existing building is circa 1940 and is made of corrugated iron cladding and wooden internal
panelling.

“The extension will be in place of the existing dilapidated storage shed and will be single-storey, about half the size of the existing headquarters. There is no garden as such, just waste ground within a small 1m high wire fence.

“It is intended that the extension will be temporary with work ongoing for a permanent solution in approximately three years.”

Martin Lock, leader of the 1st Benson scout group, told a parish council meeting last year that the beaver and cub sections had grown to 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 it will stifle the growth of the group.” 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, which 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.

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.

The district council will make a decision by April 16.

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