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Fencing club Stort Valley Sabre seeks permanent home in Bishop's Stortford

A fencing club must prove its point to planners and win permission for a permanent home in Bishop’s Stortford.

Peter Wright, who runs Stort Valley Sabre Club at schools and community halls in the town, Sawbridgeworth and surrounding areas, asked East Herts Council to grant a certificate of lawfulness, which would enable him to use an industrial unit at Raynham Road as a fencing school, or salle.

Before signing a lease to rent the former showroom, offices and storage for a tiling and flooring company, his application to the council sought an assurance that change of use of the building was agreed under permitted development rights.

Picture from Stort Valley Sabre Club website (43785370)
Picture from Stort Valley Sabre Club website (43785370)

Mr Wright, from Gilston Park, founded Stort Valley Sabre Club three years ago. It has 35-40 members.

He told planners: “The club is run on an inclusive not-for-profit basis, ensuring its membership subscriptions are not a bar to participation and that the sport is accessible to all those wishing to take part."

The fact that it does not have a permanent base and relies on using school, village and community halls has foiled its growth because of the restrictions on timings for tuition.

Mr Wright said that "very few" permanent fencing salles in the country were open to the community, with only four or five nationally and one in the South East/London area.

"This site would be an exciting development for the club and provide much-needed sporting provision to surrounding communities,” he said.

He envisaged the club would operate principally between 3pm and 10pm on weekdays, and at weekends.

Changes to planning rules in September raised the prospect that proposals such as Mr Wright's would not require a planning application to be submitted.

However, EHC planning officers ruled that Stort Valley Sabre's scheme did not fall within the remit of permitted changes of use as identified in the amended Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 and that planning permission would be needed.

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