Fight­ing for cen­tre’s new home

HS2 means out­door fa­cil­ity must move to Bucks

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS -

HILLING­DON’S much­val­ued Out­door Ac­tiv­ity Cen­tre (HOAC) will close in 2018 af­ter mov­ing sites to a neigh­bour­ing county, to make way for HS2.

HS2 Ltd have given the cen­tre, used by 22,000 young peo­ple, a dead­line to be off site so con­struc­tion can take place by March 31, 2018.

Af­ter months of pe­ti­tion­ing from res­i­dents, the HS2 Se­lect Com­mit­tee re­leased their fi­nal re­port, which ac­knowl­edges the value of the amenity, with “wide sup­port for the work it un­der­takes with chil­dren, in­clud­ing dis­ad­van­taged chil­dren”.

The re­port read: “Sub­ject to plan­ning ap­provals be­ing ob­tained in suf­fi­cient time, the Com­mit­tee would wish to see HOAC re­lo­cated to the Den­ham Quarry Site, if HOAC de­cide that that is prefer­able to stay­ing put.”

The Uxbridge Gazette Se­ries

But Jeff Creak, Prin­ci­ple of HOAC, says the re­port’s word­ing is “disin­gen­u­ous”.

He said: “They (HS2) have made it clear there’s no chance of us stay­ing on site.

“We don’t have any op­tions to re­lo­cate so it was a bit smoke and mir­rors. There is no op­tion – we have to move if they’re go­ing to build HS2.”

As part of HS2’s route from Birm­ing­ham to Lon­don, a 13m high viaduct will cut through the cen­tre’s 45 acre lake.

HS2 has agreed to re­lo­cate the cen­tre whilst foot­ing the bill for “tens of mil­lions” of pounds, af­ter pe­ti­tion­ers gave their cases for mit­i­ga­tion at the Se­lect Com­mit­tee.

Mean­while, HOAC will carry as on nor­mal as is pos­si­ble, whilst li­ais­ing with the high speed rail link, to ob­tain plan­ning per­mis­sion with neigh­bour county coun­cil, Buck­ing­hamshire.

Mr Creak said: “We’ll be run­ning a full sea­son this year and a full sea­son fin­ish­ing at the end of Oc­to­ber 2017, in­clud­ing week­ends.

“But then from the end of Oc­to­ber, through to March 31, the plan is we’ll be mov­ing into a new site at Den­ham which HS2 would have pre­pared for us. We’re in­volved with HS2 with the build­ing of the new site in terms of lay­out, build­ings and struc­tures and we’ve all been re­cently in­volved with Bucks try­ing to sort leases and get ev­ery­body on board.”

Pub­lic con­sul­ta­tions will be held in March and April, in a bid to prove the cen­tre has a lot of in­ter­est and still has a fu­ture for ser­vice users – who can come from Hilling­don and use the new site.

Mr Creak con­tin­ued: “Hope­fully th­ese meet­ings will give the mes­sage that HOAC will be re­born on a new site.

“It’ll take a while to get it up to speed but it’ll be just as good, if not bet­ter.

“We’re fight­ing tooth and nail to get there – our young­sters in the com­mu­nity ben­e­fit from it so to close it, as the Se­lect Com­mit­tee recog­nised, would be com­pletely wrong. We’re work­ing as hard as we can, with HS2, to achieve our aim. It’s a very tight timescale and the real is­sue at the mo­ment is to try and get plan­ning per­mis­sion ap­proval.”

The fu­ture of HOAC teeters on Buck­ing­hamshire County Coun­cil’s de­ci­sion of whether or not to ap­prove plan­ning per­mis­sion – likely to be made at the end of April. Mr Creak added: “If Bucks coun­cil say no, then it’s full stop. In the early days we ex­plored lots of al­ter­na­tives, all of which HS2 re­jected. So there is no al­ter­na­tive as far as I’m aware, es­pe­cially in the time scale.”

The two pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion days, which will pro­vide in­for­ma­tion about the plans, will be held on March 19, from 11am to 3pm at Hilling­don Out­door Ac­tiv­ity Cen­tre, Dews Lane, Hare­field, and April 9 at Den­ham Com­mu­nity Cen­tre from 11am to 3pm.

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