London & South East

Youlbury Activity Centre

One of four of The Scout Association‘s National Scout Activity Centres in the United Kingdom, Youlbury Activity Centre is the oldest permanent Scout campsite in the world.

The site was first used as a meeting place and camping field in 1912 when the site owner, Sir Arthur Evans, had a cabin built for a local Scout Patrol. Since then Youlbury has grown to welcome, not just Scouts, but young people from the communities around Oxfordshire, across the UK and from around the world.

The centre is set in 42 acres of woodland in rural Oxfordshire and is the perfect location for any outdoor adventure. The centre offers a wide range of both high adrenaline and more traditional activities, from the 3G swing to backwoods cooking, abseiling to orienteering.

A spokesperson for the centre said:

“Our friendly and experienced staff will work with you to plan the perfect visit for you and your group, offering a tailor-made service that sets us apart from other providers. Whatever your aims we’ll help you achieve all of your objectives and more.”

In order for the centre to continue offering these opportunities, to an appropriate standard and quality, a development of facilities was needed. Thus, in 2009 a planning application was approved by the local council for an extension and refurbishment of the existing sites.

The aim of the development was to ensure that Youlbury Scout Activity Centre would continue to prosper for another hundred years as an informal learning environment for local, national and international visitors.

Orbit Architects have worked on the masterplan which will see the creation of four new accommodation lodges, a new indoor activity centre, refurbishment of existing buildings and better facilities for campers and visitors.

The focus of the development is on sustainability and renewable technologies are inherent in the design. The first phase is currently under construction with further phases planned over the next few years.

As part of the £1.2million development both the north and southern areas of the site are receiving work. In the north the work comprises the refurbishment of Youlbury Lodge, construction of a new caving complex, in addition to a maintenance and activity store which will house equipment. A new WC block will also be built to serve visitors camped in the area.

Works in the south will comprise the build of a new reception centre, four new accommodation lodges- which will provide groups with rooms ranging from two to six beds and a central dining hub for 120 people. Each lodge will have a separate kitchen with all bedrooms having en-suit bathroom facilities. A new activity barn will also be created which will offer additional various indoor activities including an indoor climbing wall.

The development also has a focus on green design, with overall energy and water consumption being reduced by new cost-effective, environmentally friendly measures including improved thermal insulation, reduced glazing areas, heat recovery, solar powered heating, and rain-water harvesting.

A series of dense reed bed, ponds and a Lagoon located to the North-West of the site will also provide a natural and environmentally friendly way to purify waste water on-site.

A series of elevated timber walkways will traverse the Lagoon offering guests a firsthand opportunity to learn more about its functionality and the environmental issues surrounding it. This experience will be part of a wider educational programme aimed to ensure that the centre is constructed and operated in an environmentally conscious way.

The development is scheduled to be completed within the next few years.

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Roma Publications

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