Church U-turn on bid to build on Scout land in Guiseley

Plans to build on land used by Scouts and Guides have been abandoned after the Church was accused of putting profit before children.

Angry parents and Scout leaders claimed the Diocese of Bradford was trying to push the planning application through in the run up to Christmas in the hope that no-one would notice.

But now in a dramatic development the application has been withdrawn just days before the deadline for objections.

The proposal to build two detached houses on land next to the vicarage in Guiseley had been submitted to Leeds City Council with a supporting statement saying the site had been unused for many years and was not used by the Scouts.

But the claim was angrily rejected by parents and Scout leaders who say the land is regularly made use of by local groups.

Maureen Cooper, leader for the 15th Airedale Scout Group says they were not informed about the application, despite leasing the field from the diocese.

In a formal objection to Leeds City Council she says: “They were hoping to keep it quiet and get it passed at a time when everybody is very busy preparing for Christmas.

“This is despicable and shows the Bradford Diocese in true light.”

She said the field was heavily used by the Scouts and Guides who paid rent and had offered to buy it from the Diocese. Assistant District Explorer Scout leader and former Guiseley resident James Haigh also lodged an objection.

He said: “The current Scout HQ building has in place since 1982, and in that time has always had the use of the land for recreational use, be it camping, games and charity fundraising events, the most recent of which was only a month ago.”

He added: “Safe areas are vital for children to be able to use and this area provides that safe zone for both play and learning about the outdoors, as it has always done for many, many years.

“Countless young people have benefitted from the use of the field over the years and the building of the two proposed houses would rob countless others of that opportunity.”

Alison Drake, one of the parents objecting, said the Church would be making a “handsome profit at the expense of the children”.

“The land is not ‘vacant and unused’ as stated in the application, it is used by the Scouts and Guides on a regular basis,” she said.

“If this land were to be built on, it would mean a massive loss of amenity to the children who go to Beavers, Cubs, Scouts, Explorers, Brownies and Guides and their families.

“At any one time there must be in excess of 100 children attending the various groups and I feel it is imperative to save this land for them and the children who will attend in the future.”

Opponents of the scheme said they were delighted it has been dropped but were concerned that a new application could be submitted in the New Year.

The Dioceses of Bradford has not given a comment.

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