CONTROVERSIAL plans by a Sheffield school to erect a 2.4 metre mesh security fence around its buildings and playing fields could be given the go-ahead next week.
Hallam Primary, off Hallam Grange Crescent, has won the backing of city planners over its ambitions to improve pupil safety and protect school property.
Planners say that formal permission would not be needed if the fence was slightly shorter. The school’s approach includes a proposed agreement designed to ensure the community will be able to continuing using the fields for activities such as playing and dog walking.
However, councillors will have the final word on Tuesday when they will be under strong pressure to reject the application on the grounds of local people being denied easy access to community land they have used for more than 40 years.
Of 300 individual representations made to the council, 227 have objected to the school’s scheme. Protesters want the playing fields to be officially designated a village green to ensure public access is retained at all times.
Hallam Community Youth Association, which is on the site, says the fence should be relocated to address the needs of both the school and the community.
The school’s community support includes a 120-name petition.
It says it wants the fence to deter vandalism, graffiti and dog dirt and to provide a safe outdoor environment for pupils. Critics say too much of the playing fields are being enclosed.
Planners accept: “It is not ideal to enclose a large playing field which is regarded highly by the local community and used for social activities.
“However, it is clear that the school feel the need to protect the school buildings and children.
“Additionally, it is highlighted that a two-metre-high fence could be constructed around the field without needing planning permission.
“This would effectively prevent the public from using the site and there would be no requirement for a Community Use Agreement to ensure continued use of the field by the local community.
“As such it is considered that the current proposals would benefit the local community significantly more than a fence constructed under permitted development.”
Details of the proposed Community Use Agreement are expected to be submitted before the council decision is taken. Planners say: “The community will still be able to use the field. The nature of this use will be, however, will be on a more formal and organised basis.”
The council says the village green application will be decided separately. “If the school decides to implement the (fence) application, they do so at their own risk with regards to the outcome of the village green application.”
Planning application: 10/04122/FUL.