Shephall View Proposed Development Update
11 October 2022 - We have been, and continue to be in discussions with the Stevenage Sea Cadets to find a suitable venue to relocate to, which will allow them to continue as a valued community asset. As part of these discussions, as they are a charity group, SBC have offered them a discretionary rental of the St Nicholas Pavilion at a 25% discount, the option still remains should they wish to consider.
We remain committed to finding a solution for alternative premises for the Stevenage Sea Cadets as soon as possible.
Following the publication of the article in the Comet about the Shephall View Housing Development, this has raised a few inaccuracies, that need to be addressed.
The proposed development of 57 homes at Shephall View will help to subsidise the prospective 96 independent living apartments to be built at the garage site located in between Brent Court and Town Centre Gardens. The new state-of-the-art independent living scheme will give our older residents within Stevenage, high quality social housing and this will in turn free up much needed 2, 3 and 4-bed council properties for families waiting on our housing register.
Working closely with groups
So far, we have been working collaboratively with all of the organisations currently operating at the site, the childcare provider included, to identify suitable alternative accommodation and we’re pleased the nursery has been able to secure this, largely as a result of their own proactive effort.
The Sea Cadets and the 5th Scout Group who are both located at Shephall View, were initially contacted in October 2021. We have been, and continue to, work closely with organisations that will be affected with a view to assisting them in relocating to other premises where they will be able to continue carrying out their community activities, in buildings that are safe and fit for purpose. This includes having better access to the lakes at Fairland’s Valley Park.
We recognise the value these organisations add to the local community. In particular, we met recently with the Stevenage Sea Cadets on 4 October and will be meeting with them again on Wednesday 26 October to continue this dialogue. Some dates have also been confirmed with representatives of the Scouts for later this month.
To date we have encouraged the groups to view available public buildings located throughout Stevenage that have availability to accommodate their activities, some of these are close to where the groups presently operate. These buildings provide a safe environment in which the young children can carry out the activities and further have the benefit of being managed premises; meaning that the voluntary groups do not have to worry about building maintenance, utility bills or security of the premises.
Previously, as part of the original lease agreement, building maintenance has been the responsibility of the groups themselves and due to ever increasing costs and additional pressures has been challenging for them to maintain. At a recent survey carried out in September 2022, it was noted that the Sea Cadet’s premises was in a particularly poor state of disrepair. Documented images can be viewed below.
At a time when fuel bills and building maintenance costs are ever increasing, it makes sense to work with these organisations so that they are put on a better financial and operational footing for many years to come rather than trying to simply survive.
What has happened so far?
We can confirm that the Sea Cadets and 5th Scouts group have both received formal notification from the Council’s Estates Department that confirms the already expired leases will not be renewed and that at end of the notice period, which is between 6 -12 months away, there will be a requirement to return the buildings back to the Council.
This gives ample time for the groups to liaise with the council and find alternative local venues, of which some are already under consideration. Indeed, the Sea Cadets own website confirms that they started fundraising for this eventuality some 2 years ago.
We understand this is a stressful time for the two voluntary groups; however, we are doing our utmost to collectively provide them with different options, and to assist the groups in relocating to another facility. We simply cannot agree with the groups though that they require their own purpose-built buildings and that they cannot share premises with other groups. The Council has many public buildings dispersed throughout the town that are available to the local community to hire and make use of.
As part of our commitment to both groups, we are attempting to provide better access to the Fairlands Valley Park lakes for the enjoyment of their members, along with compensation to help them relocate and bolster their operational funds.
We wish to arrive at a situation where the groups can function safely, efficiently and for many years to come.