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Hereford planning department have today approved planning with conditions for the replacement of existing Scout Hall, Stores, Sheds and Shipping Containers with new Scout Hall, which includes garages and stores. Covering letter in support of the plans Scouts’ Corner "Rebuilding the heart of our community" What we do We are Scouts South Marches, working across the majority of Herefordshire, part of the UK’s biggest mixed youth organisation. As Scouts, we believe in preparing young people with skills for life. We bring communities together and contribute to society. Above all, we aim to build better futures. Society is changing. In often fragmented communities, the pressures and expectations on young people are increasing. The future is uncertain. Scouts has never been so important in helping young people prepare for the future, developing the skills they need to succeed in a changing world. Each week almost a thousand young people across our District enjoy fun, friendship, and outdoor adventure. They develop a sense of optimism and strong values as well as the leadership and teamwork skills that are more valuable today than ever. Our home Our District Headquarters is affectionately known as Scouts’ Corner. Situated on Crozen Lane it has been the home of Scouting in Hereford since 1949. Over its history, Scouts’ Corner has served our District, and the community, well. Scouts’ Corner seen from Crozen Lane The building has a history which predates The Scout Movement itself. Originally the Countess of Huntingdon’s chapel, the building was moved from Berrington Street to its current site in 1889 along with its congregation. It continued to serve as a chapel until the outbreak of World War Two when, in 1940, it was requisitioned by the Home Guard. In 1949 the then District Commissioner of Hereford Scouting, Mr W.G. Ellison, organised the purchase of the site and it has been at the heart of our District ever since. In the 1980’s the trustees of the time started a project to rebuild Scouts’ Corner as it was started to deteriorate in condition. Unfortunately, the cost of the project was too much for the District at the time and the trustees decided to refurbish the hall instead. The hall has continued to be maintained and refurbished with small upgrades to the heating and toilets, new paneling to protect the internal walls and some redecoration. The building is now used regularly by 1st Hereford Scouts as well as a ballet group, spiritualists, and a daytime nursery. Between these groups there are around 150 people who use the hall weekly with others benefitting from ad hoc bookings. What we need As a Scout District we manage and support all aspects of Scouting across the majority of Herefordshire. Whether its training adults and holding AGMs or running activities for our young people, we need a home that is fit for purpose and built to last. A meeting room is desperately needed for small group training, trustee meetings and for our adult appointment process. It would allow us to perform all of our functions as a District without needing to hire other spaces which we do currently. It will also create a more versatile space with the option to have break-out groups within larger meetings. To provide an exciting, relevant programme of activities for our young people we have a vast array of equipment and resources which all needs to be stored safely. The current storage arrangements at Scouts’ Corner are inadequate in size and condition. The external storage consists of a wooden hut which is now rotting, a concrete prefab garage and a container which are difficult to access and deteriorating in condition. Internally there is very limited storage which has resulted in the use of the loft space accessed by a ladder. Due to the lack of space we currently store a lot of our equipment in an off-site storage facility which we pay for. We have of course considered whether these needs could be met through further renovation and reconfiguration of the existing buildings. The buildings are of limited lifespan and there would be a significant ongoing cost to upkeep them. There is also limited scope for a reconfiguration of the current space; incorporating a meeting room would significantly reduce either the main hall space or the limited storage space. A key issue is the lifespan of the ageing buildings on site which no amount of work will futureproof; anything other than a rebuild will simply defer these issues to a future generation. What our young people think Youth involvement is a cornerstone of Scouting. We asked our Scouts what they thought our District Headquarters should be like and they weren’t short of ideas. They all thought we needed a new headquarters and they were keen for it have a large kitchen, some outdoor space where they could develop Scouting skills and to look more modern from the outside. They also had ideas for how to decorate it with every Group from across our District contributing a decoration for the hall. We have taken all their points into consideration with this scheme to hopefully deliver a District Headquarters which they can be proud of. They are our future leaders and we want them to inherit a building which is fit for purpose rather than the same issues we have been facing since the 1980’s. Our plan We know that the provision of social and community facilities, including premises from which voluntary services such as the Scouts are run, is valuable to communities and an important feature of Herefordshire’s Local Plan Core Strategy. Whilst our primary aim is to create a District Scout Headquarters which meets our needs, we would welcome its wider use by the community as we have done with the current building. We are not looking to dramatically increase the capacity of the hall and therefore the number of users at any one time, simply to improve the quality of the space and secure its future longevity. We have taken every care to develop a project which is sensitive to our surroundings, particularly the trees onsite with the northernmost section of the building angled to avoid disrupting the trees. This also creates a larger space between the tallest part of the building and the adjacent premises. This also creates a more private outdoor space away from the car park which could be used by groups for activities. The proposed building incorporates more storage space which is better suited to our needs and will replace the unsightly containers and dilapidated garage currently on site. Integrated storage in the main hall will allow us to store tables and chairs as well as equipment used by groups safely without any intrusions into the hall space. The garage space incorporated into the end of the building will enable us to house the District’s equipment on site, reducing our expenses as well as volunteer’s time going to multiple locations for equipment. In summary, we believe that the proposed scheme will provide a modern headquarters which is sensitive to its surroundings and will enable us to continue preparing young people with skills for life for many years to come. Full details of planning application P203891/F can be found here