'We just want to help people' - Archery club to stay after appeal
- Credit: Archant
Two years after an archery club was threatened with closure by officers, the owner and the council have pledged to work together.
Holt Woodland Archery and Air Gun Club was set up by Jonathan Hancock in 2010, on private land in High Kelling.
The club has ranges for archery and air rifles in a tranquil setting with a clubhouse and even its own war memorial and veterans' hub.
However, the future of Mr Hancock’s site looked in doubt when in 2019 North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) officers ordered him to clear the site.
It came following complaints to the council around noise from the club, prompting it to take enforcement action over the use of the land without planning permission.
Earlier this month the planning inspectorate ruled on an appeal, concluding that the site should be allowed.
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Stephen Brown, the inspector, said that archery was an appropriate activity for the site, which is well-maintained, and traffic generated was unlikely to be at high levels.
However, Mr Brown acknowledged some issues, including a mobile shepherd's hut which Mr Hancock is planning to remove.
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Mr Hancock said the council was right on some issues and stressed there was no animosity between them.
Mr Hancock said: "I have spoken to NNDC, we are working together, we want to go forward to try to help people post-covid.
"It's a relief, it is always a worry when you have things like that but we just want to carry on helping people."
Mr Hancock said the site started as a way to help him cope with anxiety and depression and had expanded beyond all expectations.
"When people come in I say 'forget your trouble, leave the pandemic at the door, leave Brexit and politics and everything like that'.
"Everyone is on the same level here, everyone is an archer."
In a statement on NNDC's website, the council said they will be working with Mr Hancock to complete outstanding requirements.
"The council acknowledge and is supportive of the wider public benefits that have been delivered from the site," it said.
"This decision will deliver a sustainable and regulated future for archery and air rifles on the site."
The decision has been welcomed by North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker, who said he was “thrilled that some common sense has prevailed”.
“Jon has done so much for mental health, military veterans and this site will be invaluable as we emerge from the pandemic.," he said.