CAMPAIGNERS have presented their case against a proposed mobile phone mast at an appeal meeting.

Hutchinson 3G wants to put a 12 metre high mobile mast, on a public footway in Dittons Road, Stone Cross.

Campaigners say that the site is too close to both the new Stone Cross Medical Centre, Stone Cross Memorial Hall — which is home to a pre-school — and Stone Cross Primary School.

The original application was placed before Wealden District Council in May 2006.

District councillors rejected the plan.

In the council's decision notice it states, ''The proposed siting of the 12 metre high 'telegraph pole' mast is unacceptable as it would result in a visually incongruous feature at an inappropriate location on the edge of the pavement immediately fronting a busy medical centre, with the possible risk of interference with equipment, and in close proximity to the local primary school, village hall and other community facilities where the general public, including children, regularly visit.''

Planning inspector Robert Marshall was hearing the appeal made by Hutchinson 3G against the district council.

He heard other sites had been looked at but not taken any further by the applicant because of their 'close proximity' to a nursery school.

Debbie Marriage, speaking on behalf of Hutchinson 3G, said the councillors had made a decision which could not be backed up on planning grounds.

She said, ''We believe that this site is the most suitable. It will allow the equipment to blend in with the current street scene and offer the maximum range for our customers.

''We do not feel that the council made the correct decision when it refused the application.''

Members of the applicants team said mobile phone base stations were not a health risk.

They also said they did not believe sharing a mast with O2 further along Dittons Road would be possible, because it would mean installing a higher mast than the one which is already there.

Judith Rice, senior planning officer for Wealden District Council, said, ''Many of the sites which were disregarded in the council's view could be more suitable than this one.

''There is already a mast further along the highway in Dittons Road which as an example, we believe would be more suitable.

''The perceived health risks, along with the concerns the medical centre has about interference with its equipment in our view constitute a good reason for its refusal.''

Alison Coode, representing Westham Parish Council, said, ''The council believe the mast's location is totally wrong.

''We would also question why one location which was ruled out by the applicants because it was close to a nursery wouldn't have automatically ruled this location out as well.''

# The decision by the planning inspector is expected to be made in up to six weeks.

03 March 2007

All rights reserved © 2007 Johnston Press Digital Publishing.

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