Palmerston North residents take offence at council's fence plan

Palmerston North residents take offence at council's fence plan

Palmerston North City Council has some residents up in arms because of plans to reduce high fences in residential areas.

Resident Ivan Johnstone is appalled at the plan that would require two-thirds of his road-facing fence to be just 1.1 metres high.

"On this side of the road the sun is in the front of the house, on this side of the road it's in the back of the house, so this is the side of the road I say you should be allowed a 1.8 [metre] fence to give you privacy," he says.

But the Council wants fewer high fences because it has some "strong strategies around wanting to be socially connected, safe, community driven".

It says the evidence is that high front fences discourage that activity from occurring.

Urban planner Graham McIndoe says the occasional high fence is okay, but now whole streets are being dominated by them.

"At night, when people are walking along the street, there's no sign of life, the lights are off, it's unpleasant," he says.

"There's a lack of overlook, eyes on the street. That compromises safety on the street, also it's horribly visually monotonous."

The Council says higher fences lead to increased driving speeds and higher crime, and houses with high fences are twice as likely to be burgled.

"The reason for that is quite clear," Mr McIndoe says. "Criminals like to go about their house-breaking unobserved."

But Mr Johnstone values his privacy more.

"I think privacy is more important than someone seeing a burglar," he says.

But high fences aren't just a problem in Palmerston North.

"It's something being looked at in the Unitary Plan of Auckland," Mr McIndoe says.

Mr McIndoe says it's about striking a balance between privacy and a street environment that's safe, attractive and benefits everyone in the neighbourhood.