Scouts' bid for new HQ could be thrown out despite community support

Long Ashton Scout Group's plans for a new HQ.

The Long Ashton Scout Group's plans for a new HQ. - Credit: Long Ashton Scout

Scouts’ dreams of a new HQ in North Somerset to tackle a 100-strong waiting list could be dashed. 

The Long Ashton branch of the movement has outgrown its historic Providence Lane base and found what it says is the only viable, affordable alternative site. 

The community has backed its bid to build a “truly inclusive”, sustainable new HQ on land west of Wild Country Lane. 

But the site is outside the village settlement boundary and within the greenbelt, and North Somerset Council officers said the harm the “large and visually intrusive” building would cause had not been justified. 

The scout group, which has been running for more than 90 years, said in its application: “A new purpose-built facility has been a community desire for many years. 

“The prospective land purchase and subsequent building of a new scout headquarters at the application site is the only viable option for the scout group, if the organisation is to continue to grow and flourish within the village. 

“Demand for enrolment in the Long Ashton Scout Group has dramatically increased in  recent years, with the waiting list currently at 97 in the village across all age groups, meaning many will never get a place.

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“The proposal would provide a fit-for-purpose building that would be truly inclusive and accessible to all.” 

The scouts said the building would embrace sustainability features including solar panels, a ‘wildlife wall’, rainwater harvesting and an air source heat pump. 

Council officers were not convinced the group had looked far enough for alternative sites and said a more sustainable option would be building next to the guides HQ in Weston Road to create a “multi-use, fit-for-purpose site” for both organisations. 

However, their report says the guides have ruled that out because there would be insufficient space for a building and associated car parking. 

Recommending refusal, the officers said the proposed scout HQ represented inappropriate development in the greenbelt. 

They also raised concerns about the impact on road safety and ecology, adding that the site was not very accessible or well related to the community it would serve. 

North Somerset Council’s planning and regulatory committee will consider the arguments when it meets on July 21. 

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