Company appeals for mast

By Ruth Keeling

A mobile phone company has lodged an appeal after Oxford City Council refused to allow it to put up a pine tree-shaped mobile phone mast.

Vodafone was told in February that the appearance of the 15m mast was inappropriate and that the site it had chosen near the Oxsrad Sports Centre in Marsh Lane, Marston, was also not suitable.

It is the latest in a long line of applications and appeals by companies which want to put up masts in the area to improve their service. continued...

In March, the planning inspectorate upheld the council's claim that a Vodafone mast, planned for the corner of Jack Straw's Lane and Marston Road, would be poorly situated next to a busy cycle path and bus shelter.

But he did not agree with the council's claim that the company had not properly investigated sharing a site with other mobile companies.

In the same month, the inspector refused T-Mobile's plan for a 12m mast outside Marston Medical Centre in Cherwell Drive, which was to look like a telegraph pole.

An application by the same company for a 10m mast at the same site was also refused by the city council after more than 1,000 people signed a petition against the idea.

Plans for 3 Mobile to erect a mast on the roof of St Michael and All Angel's Church, in Marston Road, have also been dropped, according to curate Rosemary Rycraft.

Labour city councillor for Marston Mary Clarkson said: "They just keep on and on. It is annoying because they don't seem to be following the code of practice.

"What I'd like to see them do is going away to talk to other operators and try to find a site to share."

She was optimistic that the planning inspectorate would uphold the council's latest refusal. She said: "We have got several grounds for refusing and I am hoping that the visual impact will stand up.

"The mast design looks quite silly and is quite obviously not a tree."

Vodafone spokesman Rob Matthews said: "Vodafone doesn't take the decision to appeal lightly and we undertook a thorough review of the reasons for the refusal.

"We do not agree with the reasons for refusal and feel that this site will not be visually intrusive as it blends in with surrounding tree cover.

"We have undertaken a thorough review of all potential site sharing options, none of which were suitable."

9:11am Friday 7th July 2006

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