Firm challenges decision to reject phone mast bid

MOBILE phone giant Orange is to fight a Town Hall decision blocking plans for a mast just feet from bedrooms.

The firm’s attempt to put up an eight-foot mast in Dynham Road, West Hampstead, was rejected by Camden planning chiefs in November last year. They ruled that the phone mast would clutter a conservation area.
Orange was the first phone company to have a mast application thrown out by the Town Hall.

The decision will now be reviewed by the planning inspectorate, a government body that has the power to overturn local planning rulings.

Lib Dem finance chief and Kilburn ward councillor Janet Grauberg opposed the siting of the mast at November’s meeting. She was concerned about its proximity to rooms where people would be sleeping, but, under planning regulations, health fears cannot be taken into account when deciding on a mast application.

Seven years ago the Stewart Report ruled that there was not enough evidence to support concerns that radiation from masts is dangerous.

Objector Simon Holmes’s home is less than 10 feet from the proposed site of the mast. The father of two wants to see health concerns incorporated into law.

He said: “The council take into consideration health risks on their own property. It’s slightly hypocritical that they don’t do the same for public property which they have been elected to safeguard.”

The Town Hall’s policy, introduced five years ago, is not to have phone masts on council buildings.

But Tory environment chief Councillor Mike Greene, who warned against rejecting the phone firm’s plans at last year’s meeting, said the appeal could be costly.

He added: “I would be delighted if the council were to win – from the point of view of residents and council tax-payers – but I fear we’re rather up against it.”

The average cost to the taxpayer of the appeal process is between £10,000 and £20,000, he pointed out. That figure shoots up to about £50,000 if costs of the case are awarded against the council. In the last two years there have been 325 planning appeals in Camden, which have cost council tax-payers about £350,000.

Residents have until March 23 to lodge their objections.

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