A PLANNING application to build a fence around Addingham Primary School has been approved despite strong objections from residents in the village.

Councillors on the Area Planning Panel (Keighley/Shipley) granted permission at a meeting on July 19 with no debate.

The original application for the perimeter fence was for a height of 3m but this has been reduced to 2.4m after Addingham Parish Council asked for the amendment and in response to other objectors.

The application attracted 12 representations of objection in total on the grounds that: the fence will be an unattractive feature, it will spoil a beautiful setting, it will have a harmful impact on the conservation area, it is too high, parents and children at Addingham Primary School already feel safe and protected, there was no parent consultation, it will involve unnecessary cost when education budgets are being cut and safety concerns regarding fire escape routes.

However, planning officers recommended the scheme for approval saying: "The aim of the proposed fencing is to improve the security of the site. The safeguarding of the pupils is, of course, especially important. Whilst no specific incidents or threats to this school and its pupils been identified, the general risks and need for child protection will be well understood and is an important material planning consideration. The applicant has explained why the school perceives a need to address the lack of fencing due to the increased use of its outside areas for teaching and other activities. This needs to be considered alongside any perceived adverse visual impact."

The planning officer added: "In the context of the the site as a whole, which is quite extensive, the fencing will create a new feature that will be noticeable from certain public vantage points, but it is not one that will be especially intrusive or incongruous."

They added lack of consultation with parents was not a matter for the planning authority and the fence would not prevent safe evacuation of the school in the event of a fire.

Condition of approval include: the development must begin within three years and the fence shall be a wire mesh fence with a green powder-coated finish.

Funding will now be sought for the scheme. Speaking about the fence to the Gazette when the application was put in, head teacher Hilary Cave said: "The fencing is just, at this stage, a proposal being considered, however if we were to go ahead with any such fence, then we would ensure all parents and other stakeholders (members of the community) were canvassed for their opinions.

“Funding has not been secured from the council, however before this scheme or any scheme starts, the council has a process to follow to make sure it is possible and what it may cost.

“The council then tenders the works whilst the planning consultation is taking place. This way they can give the school a fixed quotation ensuring they follow their procurement rules."