Planning permission refused for cancer retreat by local council

Cancer charity, Teens Unite, has been refused planning permission to build a specialist retreat supporting young people fighting cancer

  • Broxbourne Borough Council have rejected plans on the grounds that the retreat, set in 7.5 acres, doesn’t meet the greenfield criteria for ‘very special circumstances’
  • Yet backing has been given to build a global film studio, Sunset Studios, on an adjacent 91 acres of greenbelt land, as well as an extensive Google Data Centre, also on 33 acres of greenbelt land
  • Seven young people are diagnosed with cancer every day in the UK and incidence rates are climbing
  • There are currently 13,866 teenagers and young adults living with cancer, and the lasting effects, in England who need vital post-treatment support
  • The cancer retreat would be the only facility of its kind in England offering long-term support, filling the gap for those young people whose mental health is impacted by cancer

Cancer charity, Teens Unite has been refused planning permission to build a specialist retreat in Goffs Oak, Hertfordshire, for young people aged 13-24 who are fighting cancer.

For the past 14 years, Teens Unite has been supporting teenagers and young adults who are living with cancer and the lasting effects. Following treatment, 80% experience anxiety and depression, 83% experience loneliness and 100% live in fear of their cancer returning.

Teens Unite organises activities and residential stays designed specifically to help young people overcome the long-term impact of cancer and its treatment. They can start to rebuild their lives, or at the very least, live with their diagnosis in the best possible way surrounded by others their age who understand what they’re going through. The activities enable them to learn new skills, make friends and challenge themselves in an environment where cancer isn’t the thing that makes them different, but the thing that makes them the same.

The retreat, known as The House of Teens Unite, would be the first facility of its kind in England and would be an accessible space tailored to suit the needs of the young people. It would become the charity’s home, offering short-term accommodation for up to three-nights at a time, with dedicated spaces to host the range of activities Teens Unite offers, from yoga and meditation, to cookery, arts and crafts, and career development.

Teens Unite has been working hard to put the plans in place for the past five years; working closely alongside Broxbourne Borough Council to find a suitable site for the build to take place. The charity has been consulting with them throughout the planning process, to the point that Teens Unite was entering the planning meeting with a ‘recommendation for approval’, having met the Planners criteria for the project meeting ‘very special circumstances’.

The planning meeting took place on 19th October, where the decision was made by the council’s Planning and Regulatory committee at Broxbourne Borough Council to refuse planning permission for The House of Teens Unite.

The overarching reason for refusal was because it was felt by the planning committee, that the facility in fact did not meet ‘special circumstances’ to be built on greenbelt land, even though this had been discussed throughout the process.

Teens Unite remains intent on still using the site they have acquired in Goffs Oak and will be appealing the decision to the Secretary of State in December this year.

Since the decision was made, Teens Unite has received an unprecedented amount of support from the local community and a parent of one of the young people supported by Teens Unite has set up a petition which has received over 4,000 signatures so far. The petition can be viewed here.

Goffs Oak is an area that is experiencing significant development, with a global film studio set to be built on 91 acres of greenfield land adjacent to the site Teens Unite has acquired, along with a data centre again also on 33 acres of greenfield land in the Borough of Broxbourne.

Roxanne Lawrance, CEO, Teens Unite has said: “We have invested a significant amount of charity funds and time into the planning process so far and going to appeal and resubmitting our planning application is going to be an additional strain on resources, which could be utilised for our beneficiaries.”

“In the last 12 months we have experienced a 15% rise in the number of young people registering for our support, and to keep up with this demand, we need The House of Teens Unite to happen.”

Whilst the incidence rate of teenage cancer is increasing, 84% are now surviving their diagnosis and require the ongoing support provided by Teens Unite. By 2030, The House will enable us to offer 3,000 opportunities for young people to benefit from the charity’s residential stays and activities.

To find out more about the plans for The House of Teens Unite, please click here.

    Press release distributed by Pressat on behalf of Teens Unite Fighting Cancer, on Tuesday 7 December, 2021. For more information subscribe and follow

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