THE PLANNING SYSTEM works best when local knowledge and common sense is considered and allowed to influence the outcome. This seems to be proven by Hedon Town Council’s debate last night over the planning application for a proposed 1.8m security fence for Hedon Primary School’s playing field.
It has been suggested that East Riding Council officers are already reviewing the original application with a view to improving the scheme.
After a lengthy Planning Committee debate last night the council expressed its view on the planning application, saying:
- that it disagreed with the proposed location of the fence recommended by East Riding Council planning officers;
- it suggested the fence bounds up a different third of the field that does not have such a visual impact upon Ivy Lane;
- it urged a fuller consultation by the East Riding Council on the fence proposal.
In a letter, Mrs Barnett the Headteacher of Hedon Primary School, said the school was responsible for playing field, but to let the school’s children play on it during break-time was not currently possible without ensuring at least five responsible adults were present. To let the children play on the field without the adequate supervision would contravene the school’s OFSTED safeguarding guidelines.
The school is currently responsible for grass-cutting at the unsecured field, paid for out of the school’s budget. The school caretaker also conducts a daily litter-pick which involves the removal of rubbish, discarded bottles and cans, and clearing away dog muck. Additionally, the field has to be checked immediately before any school activity to ensure that it is safe to be used.
Councillors heard that the field is used regularly for sports and play by both by formal organised groups (whether authorised to do so or not) and informal groups. The school wished to encourage the continued use of its facilities by the community but in a safer cleaner, cleaner area with access to the fenced agreed in advance and via a gate key. Access to the fenced area could be arranged during out of school hours, and within school hours through a booking system, whilst access to the remaining unfenced area would not change.
Some councillors expressed concerns about the loss of public amenity and a place where children could opt to play. The visual impact of a 1.8m high fence would send out the wrong message to the public it was argued. Steve Gallant, a resident living nearby to the playing field was allowed to speak on the planning application and decried the loss of amenity saying that the field was widely used for training by local sports teams and this should be supported particularly through providing litter bins including for dog waste. He also said that the proposed fence would be unsightly and was an “over-engineered solution” to any problems.
Letters from nearby were also read out that either opposed or supported the fence proposal. It was indicated that the field has also been the source of regular anti-social behaviour activity resulting in frequent complaints by some neighbouring local residents. Signs at the site deterring unauthorised use, encouraging dog-control and banning the drinking of alcohol were regularly flouted it was claimed.
The lack of consultation over the proposed fence was also raised as an issue with councillors calling for a longer and more widespread public discussion process.
Following the nearly hour-long discussion the council determined by a recorded vote that it disagreed with the scheme as currently defined by East Riding Council officers; a fence should be constructed to enable safe-play by school children, but this should be away from Ivy Lane thus reducing the negative visual impact. The council recommended a new proposal would aim to fence off a third of the site to its West. It also recommended that there should be a longer period of public consultation.