A doctors surgery which fitted razor wire to deter criminals and youths ‘playing football’ on its roof has been told it can’t keep it as town hall officers deem it ‘foreboding’.
The Highlands Surgery in Ashton-under-Lyne had applied to Tameside council to get retrospective planning approval for the installation of barbed wire on its premises.
Staff said there had been several attempted break-ins at the GP practice and pharmacy, and one had been successful.
They also claimed that young people scaling the property had tried to ‘tamper’ with the building’s air conditioning.
Consequently, in August they had put a coil of barbed wire surrounding the roof at the back of the building, which looks out over Pottinger Street and Kelvin Street.
Afterwards they were informed the work needed planning permission.
But officials recommended the application for refusal, stating that it considered the presence of the barbed wire an 'untidy and foreboding element' on the street.
Business support manager Alex Jones told councillors that the building houses not just the pharmacy but the personal data of more than 8,000 patients.
“We strongly felt that we had to improve the security of the premises before some serious damage was done," she said.
“Prior to the installation of the barbed wire we had four attempted break-ins and one successful break-in where a criminal successfully gained access to the pharmacy.
“Since it was installed, we haven’t had any incident of burglary or attempted burglary."
However she added that the crime rate in the west of Ashton was 'very high', and data from September to November showed it had the third highest rate in 88 areas east of Manchester.
“In the last few weeks alone one of our GPs had a part removed from their car in broad daylight," Ms Jones said.
They had considered other measures such as anti-vandal paint but did not think they would be enough of a deterrent.
“There is just a constant stream of teenagers climbing on the flat roof and playing football, running round making lots of noise," she added.
“Prior to the installation we have had regular complaints from local residents who actually took the time to come into the surgery and report the anti-social behaviour.
“It was a massive concern of ours that the flat roof wasn’t designed to be jumped on.
“Since the installation we haven’t had any complaints from local residents.
"The appearance of the barbed wire is not particularly attractive but we feel that the security of the building and the safety of the local community is most important.”
The surgery on Stockport Road has around 8,000 registered patients from a catchment area of Audenshaw, Ashton-under-Lyne and Dukinfield.
According to plans, the barbed wire surrounds the flat areas of the roof of the surgery, around 20 metres in total.
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The flat roof at the back of the building and around the main entrance covers the main waiting room, children’s play area, reception and pharmacy.
St Peter's ward Councillor Warren Bray attended the planning meeting (December 18) to speak against the proposals.
He said: "I think the officers’ wording is it is foreboding, and I think it is.
"I do feel for the chemist and the doctors surgery, I know there have been a number of break-ins in the area but in other areas I’ve seen security fencing and measures taken that don’t require the use of razor wire in this manner."
Development manager at Tameside council, Martyn Leigh agreed there were other security measures that would be 'less intrusive and industrial in character'.
“We don’t think it’s a long term solution to the issues that have been raised," he said.
"We haven’t got a solution but we would be happy to work with the applicant.”
Councillors backed the proposal to deny the surgery permission for the barbed wire.