Hull residents are incensed with their local council for putting up a 2.4 meter fence that, they argue, dwarfs their gardens and leaves them feeling “imprisoned”.
East Riding of Yorkshire Council erected the fence up to the border of St Anne’s School playing fields in Hessle, Hull. It said its intention was to ensure the safety of pupils, many of whom have severe learning difficulties.
However, locals whose gardens back onto the playing fields are vexed at the fence’s height and claim that they were never consulted over its installation.
The council has since filed a retrospective planning application for the fence, which was taken down during the May half term pending the planning go-ahead.
The application is set to be deliberated on by the planning committee in August or September and if it passes the fence will be erected as it was previously.
One resident, aggrieved by the plan, remarked: “I have two main objections to the fence. Firstly, the fence has a significant impact on the amenity of my property.
“The fence makes my garden look and feel imprisoned by an unsightly fence. My five-year-old child asked ‘Do we live in a prison now?’ and once the new fence had been taken down, my eight-year-old child said, ‘Yay, we’re not in prison anymore’.”
The upset local added: “Secondly, the lack of space to maintain the area between the new fence and the existing boundary fence has already created significant health and safety concerns.
“A vast amount of litter has collected in the space and due to lack of maintenance in this area, there have been rats seen along boundary fences and in my garden on numerous occasions”.
Another resident branded the fence a “monstrosity” and said it was only two meters from their home, meaning it was exceptionally challenging to keep the grass tidy and the weeds cut.
HullLive has reported that locals are calling for the fence to be lowered to six feet and for it to be set back, enabling the area around it to be maintained.
One resident suggested a compromise, saying: “Whilst understanding the need for St Anne’s School to have a secure perimeter, the erection of an eight-foot-high fence does appear to be excessive, especially having been erected immediately behind residents’ existing ones and without having received planning permission.
“The residents whose gardens back onto the playing field are aware that they have no right of access onto the field.
“However, in the past, Hessle High School has allowed access, via their drive, for residents to maintain their fences and cut back overhanging shrubs and trees.
“I would ask that the council reconsider the height and placement of the new fence, and thus continue the good relationship which has, up to now, been held between the residents, the school and the football club.”
The headteacher of St Anne’s, however, was not to be deterred by the protests of local people, insisting the fence was necessary.
Miss Hendi Longman said:I firmly believe that this height of fence, 2.4m, is completely necessary in order to safeguard our pupils.
“As a special school, we have pupils with severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties along with complex medical healthcare needs. When the new school was built, it was agreed with Hessle Rangers, that as part of their lease agreement, the school would have Access to the sports hall and the playing fields during the school day for curriculum based activities, extra curricular activities and whole school events such as sports days.
“When the panels were removed, the only thing between the field and residents’ property are their fences and bushes, none of which are more than 2m.”
She added: “There was also a significant gap that some of our pupils would be able to squeeze through and abscond out onto the adjacent fields.
“This left the school and residents completely open to people walking onto the sports fields and accessing our site, as well as presenting an extremely significant absconding risk for our pupils.
“I cannot stress enough how unsafe this made the playing fields and as a result, I had to say that no pupils are able to access the fields at any time which will have a significant impact on their learning and curriculum offer.”
Lib Dem councilor in Hessle, David Nolan, sided with the residents: “The council erected an eight foot mesh fence at the bottom of residents’ gardens that ‘makes them feel they are in Hull Prison’ without any consultation or the required planning permission. The mesh fence, which is above the height of residents’ back garden fences, clearly gives them a poor outlook.
“No provision has been made by the council to provide a gate to get access to mow and maintain the area. I’ve urged the council senior management to find a compromise solution of a six foot fence and step the fence back so the grass and Litter can be dealt with.
“I understand the height of the fence is to satisfy the security needs of nearby St Anne’s Special School pupils. However, the school itself only has a six foot perimeter fence around its school grounds.”