Broxbourne Cancer Retreat for young people launches second offer after planners reject proposal


A Broxbourne charity has launched its second bid to build a new retreat for young people with cancer after planners turned down the proposal last year.

Late last year, Teens Unite submitted an amended proposal to Broxbourne Borough Council which aims to create England’s first specialist cancer retreat for young people in Barrow Lane.

The charity’s initial application was rejected in October 2021, after councilors said it was an unsuitable building in the green belt, which was not compensated by very special circumstances.

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If approved, the retreat will accommodate short-term residential stays of up to three nights at a time, with dedicated areas for yoga, cooking, and arts and crafts to combat the longer-term effects of cancer, including on youth mental health.

The charity has been based in Broxbourne since its inception in 2007 and claims to have helped thousands of teenagers and young adults in that time, but needs more space to keep up with demand.

The new facility would initially accommodate around 50 young people each month, with a maximum of 20 young people at a time, with purpose-built facilities and a safe outdoor space.

More than 4,800 people signed a petition asking the council to reconsider the application, and the charity said it worked with the council’s planning officers to choose a suitable site for the proposals.

They added that changes have been made to the program since the October decision in hopes of obtaining planning permission later this year.

This includes a reduction in office space to accommodate councilors’ concerns it would primarily be used as the head office of a charity.

A new planning statement also confirmed that the site would not be used for large-scale fundraising events and that there would be no loud parties or events held at the site.

Roxanne Lawrance, Chief Executive of Teens Unite, said: “Teens Unite currently has offices but does not have a residential facility, so relies on renting out various sites and properties to support young people battling cancer. .

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Roxanne Lawrance, CEO of Teens Unite

“This unfortunately limits us in the number of young people we can support. The House of Teens Unite would allow us to provide activities in a safe and welcoming space, to provide desperately needed ongoing support that these young people will not have access to without us.

In response to the amended application, nearby residents raised concerns about the use of Barrow Lane, both during construction and operation of the retreat.

Instead, objections called for the introduction of an access point from Lt. Ellis Way to avoid the use of country roads.

Broxbourne Borough Council last year said councilors supported the charity’s intent but were concerned about the scale of the greenbelt plans and offered to work with the charity to develop a revised program.

No timeline has been set for a decision on the revised application, which will again have to be voted on by councillors.

The Amended Application (Ref: 07/21/1471/F) can be viewed on the Borough of Broxbourne website.

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