Scouts thrown off campsite ending 100-year-old tradition
Scouts and guides are being thrown off a campsite they have used for more than 100 years after the landlord refused to renew their lease.
The activity centre in Patshull, Wolverhampton, has played host to tens of thousands of children across the Black Country, south Staffordshire and Shropshire since before the First World War.
But the lease on the prime site, owned by the Crown Estate, is up next year and the owners have told the scouts they must go.
The group has been offered an alternative site two miles away but residents in the nearby village are campaigning to stop the move, claiming it would cause too much disruption.
If the planning application is refused the camp will be lost as a facility and closed after 107 years of continuous operation.
Resident Lawrence Harvey, of Burnhill Green, the alternative location, said: "We're not against the scouts, they're not the bad guys here, but this is a totally unsuitable site. We strongly feel they should not be thrown off their current site at Patshull."
The Wolverhampton and District Local Scout Association was formed in 1908, with the first camp taking place on the site of the current Patshull Park Hotel in 1912 before moving to Patsull Hall and finally to their present 28-bunk base at the Golf House in 1956.
The camp, run entirely by volunteers, works with young children from some of the most deprived neighbourhoods of Wolverhampton, Dudley, Walsall and Sandwell, as well of areas of Telford.
The new site, offered as a direct replacement, involves clearing woodland on green belt land.
Scout leaders invited villagers to a public meeting last week to keep them informed of the latest developments in the negotiations.
But Mr Harvey, 28, said that while residents were sympathetic to the scouts' plight, they were would fight a bid to relocate the camp to countryside near their homes.
The IT technician described Burnhill Green as 'more of a hamlet' which would not be able to handle the extra traffic and disruption the centre would generate. He added it would change the character of the rural spot. The best solution all round would be for the scouts to "stay where they are," he added.
However Richard Shackleton, the centre's volunteer manager, said: "The Crown Estate have been very supportive in finding us a new site, which we will own outright, securing the future of Scouting on the estate for the next 100 years and beyond.
"Following consultation with the local community, we are now working with South Staffordshire Council on our plans for a new centre, which would give our visitors and volunteers improved purpose built facilities, which will be set apart from the nearest residents, well screened by trees and carefully planned to fit in with the local landscape."
A spokesman for The Crown Estate said: "The current lease for the Patshull Activity Centre comes to an end next year, and after a many years of use, the premises now require significant and costly refurbishments, including a new roof.
"We’ve worked closely with them to find an alternate site at Rous’s Covert, where The Crown Estate will gift them the freehold to around 12 acres of woodland as well as contributing to their new modern facilities.
"We hope this new arrangement will give the Scouts and many other local groups, a great new space to continue their important work in the community for many years to come."
The Patshull campsite includes accommodation and dining facilities at the former Golf House, a converted barn for wet-weather activities, campfire circle, field kitchen, two fields for camping and woodland that includes a moated island.
The new application seeks permission for a 90ft long lodge, camping areas, activity buildings and car park, which would be used mainly at weekends.