Oppressive fence to go

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South Oxfordshire District Council has refused retrospective planning permission to a close-boarded fence, nearly two metres high, alongside the public footpath at Deanacre, off Deanfield Road in Henley-on-Thames.

The fence by the footpath at Deanacre

Mr Philip Turner, of 2 Deanacre applied to the council to legitimise the fence which was erected unlawfully, without planning permission, last year.  It replaced a lower, post-and-rail fence which did have planning permission. 

The three new houses at Deanacre were granted planning permission in February 2008 with conditions governing the nature of the fencing around the properties.

Says Kate Ashbrook, the Open Spaces Society’s general secretary:  ‘We objected most strongly to this retrospective planning application.  The fence makes the footpath into a long, dark tunnel which is oppressive and frightening for bona fide walkers.  The council was of the same view.’

The council rejected the application because, among other things: ‘The development reduces the open aspect of the adjacent public footpath resulting in a loss of natural surveillance to the footpath and creating a long, narrow and inhospitable pedestrian corridor with hidden recesses contrary to principles of crime prevention referred to in the South Oxfordshire Design Guide.  The development is likely to give rise to increased opportunities for vandalism, littering, graffiti, crime and antisocial behaviour resulting in a loss of security to users of the public footpath and making the houses adjacent to the footpath more vulnerable to criminal activity.’

Says Kate: ‘We look forward to the fence being removed without delay and the open nature of the footpath restored.  It is a useful shortcut to the town and of great value to the public.  We have asked the council’s enforcement officer to ensure the offending fence is removed forthwith.’

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