Making estates great again

In the last four years, Oxford City Council has invested £1.2million a year on improving living conditions and reducing crime rates around blocks of flats and communal areas. This year, a further 750k is being invested for four new projects. Some of the measures can include upgrading doors to blocks, creating new communal outdoor areas, and minimising anti-social behaviour through design, an approach also adopted by police initiative Secured By Design. Security fencing is a key consideration when refurbishing council estates, helping to create secure, private areas, improve living conditions, and make neighbourhoods safer.

We work closely with Secured By Design, manufacturing many products which are accredited by the organisation, and we've previously discussed their regulations for new homes. Recommendations for housing refurbishments are similar, but also present additional requirements that we'll go through in this blog.

Security fencing

When choosing fencing options based on a budget, it can be easy just to look for a cheap fix that will leave room to invest in other purchases. However, cheap, low quality fencing will need repairing or replacing much more frequently than a high quality option, negating the benefits of the initial lower cost. Maintenance is an issue commonly identified by landlords and councils, and investing in high quality products that perform well over time will prevent costly and time-consuming repairs or replacements. All Jacksons fencing comes with a 25 year guarantee as standard, so while the upfront cost may be higher, the long term benefits are worthwhile, and represent a proportionate budget spend.

There are different types of security fencing which are suitable for communal areas and boundaries, and consideration should be given to aesthetics, privacy, and visibility, as well as its security performance.

Perimeter fencing

Welded mesh fencing provides a secure fencing solution with good visibility to enable surveillance of potential risks outside the perimeter. V mesh panels such as EuroGuard® Regular work well as the wide apertures do not obstruct CCTV. Furthermore, welded mesh panels do not have a solid surface, helping to deter graffiti.

Vertical bar fencing is another suitable choice, and presents an attractive solution with a range of design features to suit different property types. With an appearance similar to traditional metal railings, vertical bar fencing such as Barbican® has a welded pale-through-rail construction and tamper proof fixings, and with its slim pales does also not impede surveillance.

High risk areas

LPS 1175 security rated fencing may be required in areas with high crime rates, and there is a wide range of solutions that have been tested and certified to LPS 1175 A1-E10 (SR1-SR5). Options include welded mesh panels, vertical bar fencing, and acoustic barriers. Each product provides protection against forced entry using tools such as screwdrivers and small knives, up to high end battery powered tools often used by fire and rescue services.

Low risk areas and gardens

In lower risk areas, timber fencing may be a suitable option, and can also enhance the appearance of a public space which is an important factor. Taylor Landscapes, one of our Approved Installers, recently replaced some poor quality, graffiti covered fencing with our timber Chilham fence panels and stated 'as yet, the estate artists have left it alone. Testimony to providing a good quality environment making people feel valued'. Chilham fence panels are ideal for these areas, as their double-sided design means there are no rails that could be used to climb over, and provides an attractive fence on both sides. All our timber fencing is also guaranteed for 25 years, the longest guarantee available on the market for softwood timber fencing.

For areas that may benefit from privacy and aesthetics but still require the strength of steel, combination fencing such as EuroGuard® Combi is constructed from welded mesh panels and timber slats, an ideal solution for hiding bins or bike storage areas. When installing bin storage, ensure these are placed away from fences to prevent them from being used as climbing aids.

Gates and access control

When choosing gates for affordable housing, there are key points to consider that will contribute to the security of the site as well as the longevity and durability of the gate.

With large numbers of people living in the same building, gates to the surrounding outdoor space need to be able to accommodate multiple operations per day. High quality materials and expert construction will reduce the impact of daily wear, and will require less maintenance over time. Ensure that gate hinges and fixings are tamper proof to avoid any adjustments being made which could hinder the safety of the gates and cause unauthorised access. To provide access to residents, key fobs are generally the best solution to allow safe, authorised access, and automatic locking.

Generally, gates will not be automated due to the additional maintenance costs involved, but if required, gates should be CE marked and must be regularly maintained to reduce long-term costs associated with replacing faulty gates.

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