Scouts will fight against plans for six new houses in Portsmouth

CONTROVERSIAL plans for six new homes in the city that have led to a nearly century-old Scout group closing down will be decided this week.

Monday, 16th December 2019, 4:15 pm
Updated Monday, 16th December 2019, 8:43 pm

Councillors are set to consider the future of half the St Nicholas Church site in Battenburg Avenue, in North End, on Wednesday.

If approved Compton Hall, which was home to the 61st Portsmouth Scouts, as well as the vicarage and a Scouts hut - used for storage - will be demolished to make way for six family houses.

The rest of the site, including the church and car park, would remain intact.

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Youth groups and users of St Nicholas Church in North End protest at plans to knock down the vicarage and church hall for re-developement. (l to r front), Martin Lewis and Liam Buckland of 61st Portsmouth Scouts pictured last year. Picture Ian Hargreaves (180925-1_church)

Former leader of the 61st Beaver Scouts, which closed in March this year, Martin Lewis said the community still intends to fight the proposals by requesting a protection order for a pathway that runs through the site.

Mr Lewis, 67, who had led the group for 27 years, said: 'I was really gutted when I found out we would have to close. The 61st Scouts have been going 90 years and they've been on that site the whole time.'

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Some of the Scouts were able to join the 104th group, also in Hilsea, for which Mr Lewis now volunteers.

He added: 'Some gave up because of their circumstances they are not able to travel further away for Scouts.

'We kept it affordable to all everyone, if someone didn't have enough cash we would never charge them.

'Children are criticised for not being out enough or doing enough but they're taking away places for them to do this for cash.'

The site is owned by St Nicholas Church and a spokesman explained the development was essential to allow a new community centre to be built on the land.

He said: 'In order to invest in our buildings like this, we hope to sell some of our land – which includes the vicarage and Compton Hall – to pay for this brand new community building.

'Our church doesn’t have any financial reserves to create new, modern facilities, so we want to sell these assets to do this vital work, and ensure we have a building that can be used by future generations.'

Developers Altavia Developments Limited declined to comment.

If the application is approved a request for a protection order can be lodged with Portsmouth City Council.