Monday, 20 January 2020

Land earmarked for parking unlikely to take scout hut

A NEW scout hut is unlikely to be built on land next to Benson Brook.

This was one of several options being considered by the parish council for the land, known as the Salt Store, off St Helen’s Avenue.

The site is owned by Oxfordshire County Council and was used to tip road sweepings until it was turned into a green space.

The parish council is bidding to buy the land, which it has tried to do previously without success.

However, the county council is willing to offer it on a lease.

If this happened, the parish council could pay for a replacement scout hut building and lease it to the 1st Benson scout group or it could sub-let the land to the scouts for them to erect their own building.

However, the council would prefer the land to remain a green space and be used for parking, for which it was allocated in the Benson neighbourhood plan.

It is predicted that the land will be needed for car parking by 2025.

Dave Rushton, a former vice-chairman of the council, said the plan, which was approved in 2018, was supposed to prevent 
speculative development and the council shouldn’t go against its own policies.

The document prevented the county council from developing the land, he added.

Parish clerk Elizabeth Stanley is to ask the county council how much it would charge to rent the land and how long the lease would be but to stress that the parish council’s preference would be to buy it instead with income from the Community Infrastructure Levy paid by developers.

The scouts want to extend their current hut in Littleworth Road in order to cater for more children while planning new premises. The building, which is owned by the parish council, is almost 80 years old.

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

Scout group leader Martin Lock asked the parish council about the possibility of building the new hut at Salt Store at a meeting in October.

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