Scout group not prepared for their hut to be scrapped in favour of houses
A scout leader wept with joy after councillors in Chorley rejected a bid to build houses on land earmarked for a new hut for her group.
When planning permission was granted for a development of over 50 homes in Mawdesley in 2015, the provision of a community facility formed a key part of the application.
But the borough’s development control committee was asked to allow that commitment to be scrapped in favour of three additional houses. The request prompted one member to suggest that the developer of the estate should “take a morality pill”.
Chris Charlton, Group Scout Leader of the Mawdesley division of the organisation, told the committee that local troops found themselves with nowhere to meet on several occasions each month, because of prior bookings at the village hall.
“While outdoor activities are an important part of scouting, there is no flexibility to go indoors during adverse weather conditions,” she said. “A scout hut would also give the village hall more opportunity to be used by other local groups - a far greater benefit than three additional dwellings.”
Committee members did not need much convincing and lined up to condemn the revised application for land off Gorsey Lane in the village. “I think a condition should now be added [to the existing planning permission] that the developer takes a morality pill”, Cllr Aaron Beavers said.
Paul Walmsley added that the attempt to renege on the original plan “stinks of greed”.
“It was finally balanced when we made the decision last time and [the scout hut] tipped it in favour - without it, I can’t see how the application would have been approved,” Cllr Walmsley said.
The 56-home plan was originally given the green light in spite of being in an area where significant development is permitted only if “exceptional” circumstances can be demonstrated.
Speaking after the meeting, Chris Charlton said she had “taken a lot of stick” for backing the original application in order to secure a hut for the 70 young people in her group, whose ages range from 6 to 18.
“I’ve been wanting my own hut for 10 years and [the revised application] just felt like a betrayal.
“The hut will give us a home - it means [equipment] can be kept together, instead of in my shed and in other people’s gardens. It means the scouts can have pride in their building, they can put their work up on the walls, there will be space outside to play and we can build fires - it just means so much,” Ms. Charlton added.
A 3,000-signature petition opposed the change to the plan and committee members unanimously voted down the proposal.