'Like a prison' - School could be made to tear down new fence

Benjamin Britten Music Academy in Lowestoft.

Benjamin Britten Music Academy in Lowestoft. - Credit: Archant

A school could be made to tear down a 4.2m high fence that has left neighbours feeling like they are "in prison".

The fence was installed without planning permission at Benjamin Britten Academy, in Lowestoft, after a spate of anti-social behaviour at the school out-of-hours.

The school has now applied for retrospective planning permission, saying it "had not realised" the fence required permission, adding better security measures had been insisted upon by insurers.

In a document submitted by the Paul Robinson Partnership on behalf of the school, it states: "It should be noted that undesirables have broken in, caused vandalism damage and left syringes and other drug taking paraphernalia within the school grounds.

"The school have reviewed the situation with their insurers and their insurers have insisted on better security measures around this boundary for safeguarding and security.

"The school apologises for the oversight in not having previously applied for planning permission for this fence. They had not realised the height takes this out of permitted development territory."

It adds the new 4.2m fence is to "prevent pupils from being able to climb out of the site, and to prevent undesirables from climbing in".

The previous fence between houses on Blyford Road and the car park at Benjamin Britten Music Academy in Lowestoft.

The previous fence between houses on Blyford Road and the car park at Benjamin Britten Music Academy in Lowestoft. - Credit: Google Maps

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Neighbours to the school, however, have criticised the new fence, calling it "unsightly" and "a total eyesore".

John Jillings is among the three objectors from Blyford Road.

He said: "We have lived here since 1977 and have had our view from our back garden ruined and we now feel we have been imprisoned in a concentration camp or prison. 

"The only area persons have entered the school ground in the past is via the playing field, not our back gardens and we have now had our view taken away.

"There is no need to have the fence this tall backing on to small private gardens and it should be reduced in height to 2.1m."

The matter was also discussed at a meeting of Lowestoft Town Council's planning committee on Tuesday evening, April 19, where councillors, by a majority of 3-1, recommended permission be approved.

East Suffolk Council's planning committee will decide whether to allow the fence, or order the school to take it down, at a future meeting.

The school has been approached for comment.