Gillotts School Gets Approval for Security Fence

Gillotts School have now obtained permission to erect a 2m high perimeter metal fence around the school through permitted development rights which does not require a planning application after twice submitting a planning application for a higher 2.4m fence which was refused.

The school first applied for planning permission to erect a 2.4m fence in January 2020.  They then resubmitted amended plans in July 2022.  The Town Council Planning Committee unanimously recommended refusal on the grounds of visual impact on the character of the area, the effect on wildlife and the proximity of the fence to the footpath. South Oxfordshire planning committee refused the application in January 2023 after it was called in the by the Town Council despite the Planning Officer recommending it should be approved.

In her letter supporting the permitted development rights application.  Headteacher Catharine Darnton states, “We have experienced numerous incidents over the years.  A sustained series of 30 connected intruder incidents Apr 16 to Oct 17), 8 of which involved criminal activity.  A serious incident in Oct 19 which led to police involvement and extensive parental concern about site safety.  Since Oct 22, when we commenced a monitoring programme, we have recorded 79 people accessing the site without permission.  Our insurances requires, for the minimum standard for Crime Resilience, a continuous perimeter fencing for intruder protection.”

District Councillor Stefan Gawyrsiak who opposed the planning application, spoke at the Town Council meeting this week despite the permitted development rights application being approved saying that he still thinks that are better ways to secure the school than the “prison-like enclosure” which is “a barrier to wildlife.”

The District Council ecologist raised no objections to the scheme stating, “surveys have concluded that impacts on protected species are unlikely.”  Gaps under the fence will be installed every 10m to enable badgers and hedgehogs to move freely.

John Case wrote an objection saying, “Members of Henley and Goring Ramblers, amongst many other Henley citizens, frequently use the bridleway (Henley 20) which adjoins the northern boundary of Gillotts School. As the footpath officer, I write on behalf of the group to express our strong opinion that this current application is substantively the same as the previous application and therefore we have to object once again. As we have said before, the path at the moment still retains its traditional rural feeling thanks in particular to its boundary of mature woodland on the school side and we suggest that every effort should be made to maintain that feeling.”

Headteacher Catharine Darnton said, “Our first responsibility as a school is to keep our students and staff safe. A perimeter fence supports this by preventing intruders accessing the site and preventing students leaving the site during the day. Our staff work in isolated offices in unlocked multiple buildings after hours with nothing to prevent an intruder reaching them.”

1 comment
  1. Christopher Wermann says:

    As ex deputy head of Gillotts Stefan should know better about child security. The evidence from ecologists also refute his positionm He needs to take into account the facts, not his usual personal views, to make an informed representation for his constituents. We need to keep a closer eye on his self serving positions on local agendas to see how people should vote in the interests of Henley residents in the next elections.


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