Fury over latest mast application

PETER WALSH
16 March 2006 11:27

Families are furious after it emerged there are plans to install a mobile phone mast just metres from an existing pole which they opposed three years ago.

Communications giant O2 UK has sent letters out as part of a pre-application consultation to inform them of plans to build a 12.5metre mast on a highway verge on the corner of Gowing Road and Reepham Road.

News of the mast, which is described as a Flexicell Column with the antenna installed within a shroud at the top, has angered people living in the area, especially as planning guidance is for phone firms to share masts where possible.

Families thought they had won their battle to stop a 10-metre mast being installed on the corner of Reepham Road and Gowing Road when it had been rejected by members of the district council's planning committee.

But Hutchinson 3G, now 3, appealed against the decision and installed it in the summer of 2003.

If O2 are granted permission for this latest proposal it would be just a stone's throw from the existing mast on the other side of the road.

“We don't want it at all,” said Sheila Chapman, 66, who lives in Reepham Road, opposite the proposed site, with her husband George, 63.

“It ends up devaluing the property if you wanted to sell it,” said Mr Chapman, who was worried these masts could end up lining the length of the road.

“We don't know the long-term effect it will have on people - how do they guarantee the effect in 30 years time.”

Robert Binley, 70, moved back to the area five years ago and is unhappy they might be installing another mast opposite his house.

“I will be strongly objecting to it,” he said. “It's a densely residential area and until they can tell me there's absolutely no danger to health at all they shouldn't be here.”

Adrian Leavey, 50, only moved into his house on Reepham Road last August, felt masts should be built away from residential areas and said he would be objecting to the proposal.

The letter sent to families indicated that three other sites in Hellesdon, Holt Road, Plantation Road/Woodview Road, and Northgate Road, had been identified but discounted.

Patricia Fahy, 68, who lives with her husband John on the corner of Gowing Road where the mast is to be placed, said: “I think it's a liberty. They said in the letter that they had not used Woodview Road as it is a residential area but so is this.”

The couple also had concerns about the visibility of people trying to turn onto Reepham Road from Gowing Road with a mast already one side and another in the offing.

Shelagh Gurney, a Broadland District councillor for Hellesdon, said: “I'm going to launch a campaign to say no to it. We said no last time and Broadland said no and they won it on an appeal.

“We've got one there and that's enough for the area - I think residents in that corner have their fair share of radio coverage.”

Darren Percival, acquisition agent for CR Barnes Ltd, on behalf of O2 UK, said a need had been identified for a base station to provide coverage in Hellesdon.

He said where possible O2 would look to mast share, but “if no existing structures are suitable, a green field site offering a good degree of natural screening is sought”.

“The aim is to identify a site that will offer the best possible coverage while minimising the environmental impact,” he said.

Are you battling mobile phone mast plans where you live? Call Evening News reporter Peter Walsh on (01603) 772439 or email peter.walsh@archant.co.uk

Copyright © 2006 Archant Regional. All rights reserved.

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