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Council orders archery club which supports ex-military personnel to shut down

PUBLISHED: 08:22 02 July 2019 | UPDATED: 11:00 03 July 2019

Jon Hancock, founder of Holt Woodland Archery and Air Gun Club. Picture: Archant

Jon Hancock, founder of Holt Woodland Archery and Air Gun Club. Picture: Archant

Archant

An archery and shooting club set up to provide a woodland sanctuary for ex-military personnel has been threatened with closure by council enforcement action.

Holt Woodland Archery and Air Gun Club, which has been ordered to shut down. Picture: ArchantHolt Woodland Archery and Air Gun Club, which has been ordered to shut down. Picture: Archant

Nestled in an 11-acre wooded area off the A148, Holt Woodland Archery and Air Gun Club was set up by Jon Hancock in 2010, on private land in High Kelling.

The club has ranges for archery and air rifles in a tranquil setting with a club house and even its own war memorial and veterans' hub.

However, after if Mr Hancock is unsuccessful in a planning appeal the site will be no more, after North Norfolk District Council 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 use of the land without planning permission.

A memorial plaque at Holt Woodland Archery and Air Gun Club. Picture: ArchantA memorial plaque at Holt Woodland Archery and Air Gun Club. Picture: Archant

The council's argument is that the site is run as a business, which would require an application to change the use of the site.

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But, Mr Hancock says the club has no paid employees, no running water and takes no profit.

He said: "It is a shame it has come to this point - I am a non-for-profit club and any fees that I charge are simply to cover costs.

A club house at Holt Woodland Archery and Air Gun Club. Picture: ArchantA club house at Holt Woodland Archery and Air Gun Club. Picture: Archant

"I set the club up as something to occupy myself and help with my mental health - but the situation is doing the opposite and causing me stress."

Mr Hancock said the club had proved particularly popular with former military personnel, providing them with a safe haven to help cope with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

He said: "When you help other people, it makes you feel so much better yourself and this is what it has done for me.

"I do not have any hard feelings towards the council - they are simply doing their job - people have complained to them and they have to respond to that.

"However, these complaints have been made by a select few - it would be such a shame if we had to lose something that has helped so many people over that."

North Norfolk District Council has been approached for comment.

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