Colney Heath Scouts fight to save hut from demolition

Colney Heath Scouts HQ has been locked up since December 2019.

Colney Heath Scouts HQ has been locked up since December 2019. - Credit: Colney Heath Scouts

A campaign has been launched to save a village Scout hut from demolition.

For several years Colney Heath Scouts have been desperately trying to renew their lease to get back into the hut they paid for and built back in the 1970s, a building the parish council wants to knock down and replace with their own community hall.

The land in Roestock Park is sublet to the parish council by St Albans district council with one of the conditions being that the land must be used for community purposes.

They say over the last five years there have been long, painful and protracted discussions and negotiations based around the granting of a new lease and in particular a focus on the condition of the Scout HQ. Since December 2019 the building has laid empty and unused.

This month the Scout group launched a proactive, sustained and high profile campaign - - to inform residents of Colney Heath parish of what they consider to be an injustice that is being carried out in their name.

The Scouts are calling on all local residents of the parish and wider members of the public to make their voice heard and to lobby the councillors who are there to serve them.

Tom Llewellin, chairman of Colney Heath Scout Group said: “The parish council seem to have completely lost sight of the community it serves.

"For five long years the Scouts have been trying to get the lease on the Scout HQ renewed - only to be evicted in December 2019. We have always said that we are prepared to make (and pay for) the necessary repairs yet there continues to be no progress and the Scout HQ remains empty and unused.

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"There is growing anger, unrest and discontent within the parish and we would urge every councillor to listen to what their local community are saying about this issue.”

Colney Heath Scouts HQ has been locked up since December 2019.

Colney Heath Scouts HQ has been locked up since December 2019. - Credit: Colney Heath Scouts

He added: “In February this year the parish council finally proposed a draft heads of terms agreement for a new 20 year lease - yet only three months later withdrew this offer despite advising the Scouts to take legal advice on the draft (at a cost of £900 to the Scout Group).

"We do not believe the demolition of the Scout HQ and the rebuilding of an expensive new and different type of community building is either necessary or what local residents are asking for. The council have left us with no other option but to launch our SOS campaign to ensure that every resident and household across the parish and beyond are aware of what the parish council in Colney Heath are doing in the name of local residents."

Parish council clerk Lisa Chaplin explained their stance on the issue: "The current situation with Roestock Hut is that in an attempt to resolve matters an informal meeting was held with the Scout group and their district representatives in May where the vice-chairman made a suggestion to build a new community hub/building.

"The district representatives were delighted with the suggestion of a new building. Sadly by the time the matter came to council in July, the Scouts had changed their minds and decided they didn’t want a new building.

"Unfortunately U-turns such as these have happened before and this has in part led to the matter dragging on for so long. There have been at least four legal and independent advisers helping the Scouts since their lease ended in 2019."

Earlier this summer an outline design of the new community hall was presented to the parish council and it was resolved that a phased approach to a planning feasibility be carried out. If the outline design was agreed then a planning cost feasibility would follow, and a pre-planning application was approved.

"New councillors wanted more information on costs and a debate on the costs will take place at the finance and governance committee meeting in early October. It was agreed to let the public have their say and a parish wide asset strategy public consultation will take place in the autumn."