United Kingdom

Conservation charity campaign to restore derelict scout hut

A local conservation charity is campaigning to bring a scout hut back into action.   

The now derelict prefab sits on privately owned land by a section of railway in Crofton Park that once formed part of the Great North Wood.  

The first hut for scouts on the site was built nearly 100 years ago but the current one has been left in disrepair since the land owner bought it and the scouts had to leave.  

The land was covered in debris before the council served the developer with a S215 notice to clean it up in December.  

At the time, when announcing the plan to serve the notice, the cabinet member for housing and planning, Cllr Paul Bell, said he was “fed-up of developers and owners of land taking from the local community”.  

The developer did tidy the front of the site but some waste remains to the rear, while the gate is not secure.    

It was the third S215 notice the council has issued to the developer.   

The first was served in 2018 when building waste was dumped on the site after the scout hut and land was designated an Asset of Community Value by Lewisham Council.   

Conservation charity the Fourth Reserve was formed in 2017 to “safeguard the natural heritage of south east London’s New Cross to Forest Hill cutting” and in particular to protect this vulnerable area from damaging development.   

The first scout hut built on the site is believed to have been lost to World War 2, while the current prefab was built in the mid-1960s and used by the scouts up until about 2004.  

The charity is raising funds that would go to having the prefab restored.  To donate go here

The vision (by Nicholas MacGuinness)

According to the charity’s petition: “In 1922, to thank the scouts who patrolled the railway bridges in World War 1, the community raised funds to build the scouts a hut on the Courtrai Road cutting as it had been the camping ground for local scouts since around 1910.    

“The mayors of Lewisham and Deptford as well as MP Sir Philip Dawson declared the Courtrai woodland a park and it was formally opened in June 1922.  

“The Fourth Reserve feel that in a time of climate emergency where many children do not have access to their own garden and where trees and wildlife are more important than ever before, the Dandy Fifth Park should be restored as an outdoor education resource.”  

This Is Local London:

The Brockley 5th Troop 1915. This site was named after this troop in 1922 when it was opened as the Dandy Fifth Park. They were known as the Dandy Fifths because of their very smart uniform. Photo provided by the Crofton Park Local History Group

This Is Local London:

Scouts camping on the site in 1914 when they patrolled the railway bridge as part of the war effort. Photo from Lewisham Archives and was coloured by Paul Harrison

The charity, which runs the Buckthorne Cutting Nature Reserve at Eddystone Road, would like to meet with the developer to make its case for a green community space and to highlight how the pandemic and climate emergency have “increased the community need to protect places like this against development”.   

The hope is to secure a lease arrangement that would allow the Fourth Reserve to manage the woodland and to restore the prefab so that the 3rd Crofton Scouts can use it again, as well as vulnerable groups such as children with autism who can find open public parks challenging.  

A Lewisham Council spokesperson said: “The council has taken enforcement action against the owners to clear waste from the site and has encouraged them to meet with local residents and campaigners to discuss their plans for the site. 

“We are keen to see this land used in a way which will provide benefit to the local community.”

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