Prison-like fence must go

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The society has objected to a retrospective planning application for 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, has applied to South Oxfordshire District Council for consent for the fence which was erected without planning permission last year, replacing a lower, post-and-rail fence.  The three new houses at Deanacre were granted planning permission in February 2008.

The close-boarded fence makes the footpath into a dark, intimidating tunnel, instead of a lovely, open shortcut between the residential area and the town.

The fence is in breach of the planning conditions for the new houses.  These require there to be ‘a hard and soft landscaping scheme incorporating external finish and boundary treatment for the public footpath’ so as to ‘protect the public footpath and to provide additional screening to soften the appearance of the development’.

There is nothing soft about the dark corridor which the footpath has now become.  People will not use a path if they feel hemmed in, and the high fencing encourages vandalism and litter-dropping because those who abuse the path cannot be seen from either side. 

The present state of the path discourages bona fide use and forces people instead to have to walk alongside roads bearing traffic.

We say that this prison-like fence goes against the spirit and the letter of the conditions put on the new development, and it blights this attractive corner of Henley.  We have urged the council to reject the application and to ensure the fence is removed and the landscaping is carried out in accordance with the original planning permission, so that the path can be used and enjoyed by all.

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