Agenda item

P19/S4319/FUL - Gillotts School, Gillotts Lane, Henley-on-Thames, RG9 1PS

Boundary fence to enclose school together with vehicular and pedestrian accesses (as amended and amplified by information received 27 June 2022).


The committee considered planning application P19/S4319/FUL for the boundary fence to enclose school together with vehicular and pedestrian accesses (as amended and amplified by information received 27 June 2022), on land at Gillotts School, Gillotts Lane, Henley-on-Thames.  


Consultations, representations, policy and guidance, and the site’s planning history were detailed in the officer’s report, which formed part of the agenda pack for the meeting. 


The planning officer introduced the report and highlighted that the application was brought to the committee due to the objection of the town council. The planning officer then informed members that the application sought to erect a 2.4 metre mesh green fence along the full boundary of the school site for the purpose of security.


The site itself was bounded by open countryside to the southeast and west, which bordered the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and by Henley-on-Thames public footpath 21 and Henley-on-Thames Bridleway 20 to the north. The planning officer also noted that two woodland spaces on the site were designated as local green spaces in the Joint Henley and Harpsden Neighbourhood Plan and would be inside the permitter fence.


The proposed fence line would be highly visible from Gillotts Lane, but the planning officer believed that the majority of the fence in that section would be considered in relation to the existing built form of the buildings. Fences to south and west of the site, where the fences met open countryside, were also considered acceptable as officers were satisfied that the mesh material and colour of the proposed fences would not obstruct important views into or out of the site.


However, the northern boundary of the site was bordered a public footpath in which the north side of the footpath was already lined with varying sections of close board fencing. The planning officer did consider that the addition of the proposed fence to the south side of the bridleway would be highly visible.


The planning officer also noted that the school retained permitted development rights for the erection of a 2-metre fence, without the need for planning permission. Officers were satisfied that the additional height would not significantly alter the character of the area from the permitted development option and that the application allowed for the council to secure some amendments to the fence line along the side facing the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and other details were secured as part of the application. Overall, the planning officer believed that the proposal was acceptable with conditions, and recommended it be approved.



Councillor Ken Arlett spoke on behalf of Henley-on-Thames Town Council,objecting to the application. 


Catherine Darnton, the headteacher at Gillotts School, the applicant, spoke in support of the application. 


Councillor Stefan Gawrysiak, a local ward councillor, spoke objecting to the application. 



The committee had conducted a site visit prior to the discussion of the application. Members asked the planning officer if the school used the north woodland for activities and noted that the officer did not believe that this was the case.


The members of the committee discussed the northern section of the site, the part that ran along the public footpath and bridleway, in detail. Members believed that the bridleway was the connection between the urban and rural area of Henley and that as the northern section of the footpath was already lined with close board fencing, the erection of the fence along the other side would have a large visual impact and be visually intrusive. It was also noted by members that a lack of thought had be put into the use of the land as a wildlife corridor and the impact the fence would have on them.


Members agreed that the proposed fencing line in the north should be amended due to its visual impact, impact on the character of the area, and that it would cut off the popular designated green space as designated in the Joint Henley and Harpsden Neighbourhood Plan. The committee also expressed its desire to see the applicant engage with the local stakeholders around the bridleway and come up with an acceptable revised plan.



A motion, moved and seconded, to refuse the application was carried on being put to the vote. 


RESOLVED: to refuse planning application P19/S4319/FUL, for the following reasons:


The school grounds are highly visible from the adjoining Henley-on-Thames Footpath 21 and Henley-on-Thames Bridleway 20, which lie immediately north of the site.  Due to the height, scale and appearance of the fences proposed the development would form an incongruous and prominent feature along the public rights of way, which would obstruct views into and across the designated Gillotts Wood Area of Protected Open Green Space and detract from the existing green and open character of the footpath and bridle way. The development would result in an unacceptable level of harm to the character of the existing footpath and bridleway and to the wider character of the surrounding area. As such, the proposal would be contrary to polices STRAT1, HEN1, DES1, DES2 and ENV1 of the South Oxfordshire Local Plan 2035 and policies SCI1, SD3 and ENV4 of the Joint Henley & Harpsden Neighbourhood Plan.

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