PROPOSALS to close off a school site with an "aggressive and oppressive" fence have been refused over concerns it could harm two Conservation Areas.

This Summer Holy Family Catholic School in Keighley submitted a planning application for a 2.4 metre high fence around the school perimeter.

The school had said it made the decision reluctantly, as the site has been left open for use as an "urban park" singe the 1960s.

But the application said this public use had recently become a safeguarding issue, with the grounds being used for anti-social behaviour.

It claimed staff regularly find drug paraphernalia on the site, and that people have been "increasingly assertive" about their right to access school grounds when confronted by school staff.

Bradford Council supported the plans to boost security at the school, which has 900 pupils.

But officers raised concerns about the design of the palisade fence, pointing out a stretch of it would pass through Conservation Areas.

This was enough to lead to the application being refused.

Planning officers said: "The school site is located opposite the Cliffe Castle and Devonshire Park Conservation Area along a substantial stretch of Spring Gardens Lane and abuts the conservation area to the rear of Glenlyon Drive.

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"The Council’s Conservation officer has assessed the proposal and advises that the fencing will have a significant impact on the general ambience of Spring Gardens Lane by virtue of its height and appearance.

"The need for fencing is acknowledged but this should be of a visually sympathetic appearance. Palisade fencing is visually austere and aggressive in character. It is more expected in industrial or high security scenarios. It creates an excessively visually oppressive appearance."

They also claimed the school's application included few details on how trees on the school site would be protected.

After the decision, Sharon Mather, Headteacher at HFCS said, ‘While we are obviously disappointed that planning permission for the fence has been refused at this stage, we are grateful that the planning office is supportive of the request in principle and have provided us with some recommended actions to support the application which are working on at the moment.

"Once completed we will resubmit our request and are hopeful that planning permission will be granted and work on constructing the fence can begin.

"The addition of perimeter fencing to the school site is a key element of our plan for overall school improvement and in particular to improve safety for the whole school community. As such we are determined to work with the planning office to ensure permission to start work on this is secured at the earliest opportunity.”