Council chiefs miss deadline to block mast bid

Furious protesters have blamed council bosses for missing a deadline to block plans for a mobile phone mast in their neighbourhood. Anne Thickett and neighbours campaigned and stopped two planning applications by Hutchinson 3G for the pole and base station, near Williamthorpe Road, North Wingfield.

But last week horrified residents discovered the mast was being erected and learned NE Derbyshire District Council had failed to inform 3G of their latest decision in time.

Mrs Thickett of Williamthorpe Road said: "We're furious that somehow because of a council oversight the mast has been allowed to go up.

"Someone should be held accountable. If it was a housing development the council would tell us to take it down, yet 3G has been allowed to build this monstrosity and we can't do anything."

The campaigners successfully blocked two applications with objection letters, including a second application for a pole with a wooden surround, and in each case were informed it had been refused.

Residents had felt the mast was too close to a residential area, was an eyesore and posed possible health threats from radio waves.

The council said that it had refused the application but 3G did not receive a council letter about the latest decision until after a 56-day legal deadline.

A council spokesman said: "In planning cases involving prior determination a planning authority has 56 days to make a decision.

"Failure to notify an applicant within that timescale means the applicant is entitled to commence building work.

"Following this case, the council has revised how it deals with prior determination cases and will in future fax or email applicants to ensure they receive a decision within the 56 days."

Mrs Thickett said she and other residents were now considering complaining to the local authority watchdog Ombudsman.

04 May 2006

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