Church plans to build on land used by scouts

The Archdeacon of Bradford, the Venerable David Lee (left), formally inducted the Rev Peter Willox (right) as vicar of St Johns Ben Rhydding on Sunday (September 16).

The Archdeacon of Bradford, the Venerable David Lee (left), formally inducted the Rev Peter Willox (right) as vicar of St Johns Ben Rhydding on Sunday (September 16).

First published in Local news

An archdeacon has retracted claims that scout leaders supported plans to build on land used by young people.

David Lee provoked outrage when he said the proposals for four houses on church land in Guiseley had the backing of the local scout group.

But this week he issued a retraction after he was told his statement was wrong.

The controversial housing plan for a site next to the vicarage caused anger among local people when it was put forward by the Diocese of Bradford last year. The original application was withdrawn only to be replaced by a new plan, which is also generating opposition.

The latest row broke out after the Archdeacon said: "When we became aware of the objections to the development of this land, we held several meetings to listen to the local concerns and, after constructive discussion, the diocese decided to change the plans in order to allocate extra land to the Scouts and Guides.

"The three principal groups (St Oswald’s PCC, the Guides and Scouts) support this solution and have written (or are writing) to the planners stating their support."

But this week he issued a statement saying: "As the Archdeacon of Bradford I have been involved with discussions about development of the church land in Guiseley from the beginning. For years, the Diocese has used all of this large parcel of land for the benefit of the community - as the school playing fields and an area for the scouts and guides. The Diocese is fully committed to these groups and wishes to see them thrive. When the plan to develop this parcel of land was agreed objections were raised that this would squeeze the land left to the scouts and guides. The Diocese listened and now is drawing up a new arrangement to allocate extra land to the scouts and guides.

"This new proposal has been presented to the Scouts, the Guides and the Church Council. I understand that the Church Council and Guides have no objection. I am on record that I thought the scouts also have no objection - but that is not the case. I have just seen their comments and they raise a concern about the noise their activities generate. I think this difficulty will be occasional and should be manageable.

"The development of this small part of the land will provide needed accommodation in a way sympathetic to the location and it will generate funds which will be invested in keeping the church serving the communities of West Yorkshire."

His statement followed a response from the 15th Airedale Scout Group Chairman Alison Drake who called on the Archdeacon to make a retraction.

After his further statement she said: "I am glad the Archdeacon has done what he can to rectify his mistake and that my only concern was that people would not bother to object if they thought the Scout group supported the application. I just hope people will make up their own minds on the merits of the application and I would urge them to make their views known by making a comment on the planning website or by writing to the planning department.

The proposal has drawn criticism from the area's MP Stuart Andrew.

He said: "I am against the latest application to develop the land next to the vicarage, this land is used by cubs and guides and must stay so. We have already seen so much development in Guiseley and to build on space used by young people would be totally wrong.

"The application was withdrawn last time and I hope that the same will happen on this occasion."

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