Plan to build 1.8m-high security fence around East Sussex school turned down at appeal.

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Plans to erect a security fence around a Seaford school have been turned down at appeal.

In a decision notice published on Tuesday (May 7), a planning inspector has dismissed proposals to erect a 1.8m fence around Seaford Head Lower School in Steyne Road.

The school said its proposal, which was refused planning permission by Lewes District Council in February last year, had been intended to ensure the safety of staff and pupils, after several instances of ‘trespassing’ on the site.

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In a statement submitted as part of the initial application, a spokesman for the school said: “The lack of appropriate fencing has resulted in a number of instances of trespassers on the school grounds.

Seaford Head Lower School. Image via Google Maps.Seaford Head Lower School. Image via Google Maps.
Seaford Head Lower School. Image via Google Maps.

“Previously intruders have gained entry to the site via the lack of secure fencing causing vandalism to property, antisocial behaviour, the use as an access route to trespass into neighbouring residential property with the problem stemming from the poor first line of defence being inadequate boundary treatments.

“It is extremely difficult for the school to adequately safeguard its staff and pupils with the site access open without appropriate fencing or gates.”

In refusing the scheme, the council judged that the school’s concerns around safeguarding would be outweighed by the harm of high fencing to nearby properties.

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The planning inspector came to a similar conclusion. In their decision notice, the inspector said: “The fence by its very nature as a security feature would appear institutional in its design, and at 1.8m in height would unacceptably increase the sense of enclosure to those residents.

“The overall effect would be a development that would appear as unduly prominent and overbearing, which would harm the outlook from the rear gardens of properties along Cricketfield Road.”

They added: “Whilst school safeguarding is a very important issue that I give considerable weight, I am not persuaded, based on the evidence before me, that it is sufficiently material to outweigh the harm I have identified to the many properties along Cricketfield Road that would be impacted.”

While the inspector did ultimately refuse the proposals, they noted how a more limited scheme — for fencing in Styne Road alone — would have stronger grounds for approval, as the harm to neighbouring properties would also be more limited.For further information on the proposals see application reference LW/22/0275 on the Lewes District Council website.