Row brewing over plans for protective cricket fence in Witham – Braintree and Witham Times

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PLANS to install a safety fence near a cricket ground have been described as “health and safety gone mad” by furious homeowners.

Phase 2 Planning is looking for permission from Braintree Council to install a 48-metre wide semi-demountable protective fence at the Sauls Bridge Sports Ground in Maldon Road, Witham.

The fence would be made up of square mesh netting and be attached to 15-metre high metal poles which would be installed on a permanent basis.

Phase 2 Planning argues the fencing needs to be installed to protect pedestrians using the footpath along River View.

But residents living near to the cricket ground have hit out at the proposals and questioned whether there is really a need for the fencing.

A total of five objection letters have been sent to Braintree Council over the proposals so far.

In his letter, Dennis Miller suggests the netting is unnecessary as it would be based so far away from the cricket pitch that even World Cup-winning cricketers would be unable to hit it.

He said: “If it’s left in place for any length of time it’ll be vandalised and I can just picture this very unsightly monstrosity with big holes in it, flapping in the wind.

“The Helen Court residents enjoy their cricket on this ground and long may that continue, but Jonny Bairstow himself couldn’t hit a six from that pitch into that corner.

“To conclude, it’s my view that this proposal is unnecessary and is classic health and safety gone mad.”

John Holt added in his letter: “I have lived in Witham for 38 years.

“To the best of my knowledge the cricket club has certainly been at this location all of that 38 years.

“Suddenly there is a need for 15-metre high fencing. Why now? Why is it required?

“It will have a detrimental visual effect on the landscape.

“It will present a danger to wildlife as birds could easily get caught in the netting.”

Objectors questioned whether the fence is being proposed due to plans to build 78 homes on the Gimsons site nearby.

Bellway Homes was granted outline planning permission for the development earlier this year, despite widespread objections.

Phase 2 Planning makes no mention of the Gimsons plans in its application, however, and insists the netting would have little effect on the character of the area.

It’s planning statement adds: “The proposal would not have an impact on neighbouring residential amenities due to the distance from the application site to neighbouring residents and being hidden from view by trees.”

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