Concerns over Harris DAF "ring of steel"

COUNCILLORS are to visit a wasteland site in West Thurrock that its owners have surrounded with a three metre high metal fence.

At last week’s meeting of Thurrock Council’s planning committee members were asked to deliver a verdict on Harris Daf’s retrospective application to erect the fence, which has been opposed by local ward councillor Oliver Gerrish, who said local residents were worried about what might happen on the site following its installation.

He described the Anchor Fields, where the site is located, as a “widely used and much loved open space” and added: “This takes a package of that land out of use. I would challenge the height of the fence. Why go for three metres when two metres would be acceptable? And there are worries over the likely use of the land in the future.

“This is a real eyesore and a major imposition on the area. Residents feel strongly about the site and I think concerns for the future are well-placed.”

Speaking for Harris Daf, their representative Gary Carpenter informed the meeting: “As far as we know there are no legitimate objections to the existence of a fence, this matter is solely about its height.

“Harris Daf, a locally-owned and managed company employing over 400 people in the local area, acquired the land at the rear of existing premises at 508-512 London Road approximately a year ago. It was decided to fence the land as the dumping of rubbish and break-ins to our existing site had reached unacceptable levels.

“We know that while two metre security fencing does not require planning permission, given our experience we know that two metre fencing would be completely ineffective against the criminal activity that we suffer. The area we are operating in is under constant pressure from unwanted activity from Travellers breaking down fences to constant vehicle crime to the site. Only last week a car was set on fire in the entrance to the site.

“It is worth noting that the land fenced already has had three metre fencing for the past 20 years or so.”

He also made comparisons with similar nearby fencing surrounding allotments which was owned and installed by Thurrock Council.

The nature of the fencing was criticised by Cllr Gerard Rice – a man who courted his own fence controversy a couple of years ago when he illegally erected six foot high wooden fencing around his Chadwell home. He said: “I am amazed we allow this type of fence” and asked if a “simple solution would be to paint the steel fencing green so it blends in?”

Cllr Steve Liddiard said he had visited the site and said: “It looks a complete travesty with bright, steel fencing” and added: “Why would you enclose an area like that unless there was an ulterior motive? I am really concerned it will be used for something else in the future.”

Taking a leaf out of Cllr Liddiard’s book councillors said they would like to see the site for themselves and so a decision was deferred pending a future visit.

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