Residents win mast battle

By Nic Brunetti

Victory: From left, Jessica Reynolds, 16, Alex Reynolds, Organiser David Reynolds, Liz Jones, Alexander Jones, seven, Patrick Reynolds, seven, Alice Jones, four, Kate Reynolds, 11 with the mast behind

RESIDENTS who stood to lose £30,000 in a bitter battle over a phone mast outside their homes are celebrating after winning their two year battle.

T-Mobile has told residents it will be taking down the phone mast in Wycombe Road, Marlow, to the delight of 140 objectors, including Great Marlow School and councillors who were against it on health grounds. Residents even pulled £18,000 together to take the case to the High Court after the mast was originally approved by Wycombe District Council in October last year.

The decision was quashed by a consent order last year after legal arguments said the council had not consulted the school and even some of the grid references for alternative sites were wrong in T-Mobile's application. And following a recent rejection of a full planning application and appeal, T-Mobile is set to take the mast down today.

David Reynolds, 47, who headed the fight alongside wife, Alex, said: "We stood to lose around £30,000 if we lost the legal case because we would have had to pay the council's and T-Mobile's costs. I am delighted. It is a shame that it was put up in the first place. It took over a great deal of our lives."

Mr Reynolds, a father-of-three, said his family would have moved away had the mast remained. It is only 17 metres from his house and he says the health risks posed to children are still largely unknown.

Around £12,000 has been recovered from the case since lawyers quashed the original council decision.

Liz Jones, 34, a mother-of-two, had just moved into Wycombe Road in 2004 when she heard the mast was set to go up. She said: "After two years I never thought I would see the day. I'm looking forward to being able to come out of my house without seeing the mast there. They have to go somewhere but not in residential areas."

Mr Reynolds, an osteopath, called for all phone masts to now go through full planning applications instead of being dealt with under delegated powers.

He said residents were originally promised that the mast would be decided by the council's development control committee only for it to receive prior approval.

However, he praised the council's case officer who dealt with the recent application where it was rejected.

Mr Reynolds only chose to fight the mast after reading council public documents on the original decision. He said: "If I hadn't gone in and looked at this we would have been none the wiser."

Council spokesman Becky Wotherspoon said: "We are pleased to hear that the appeal by T-Mobile has been overturned and will be contacting them about the removal of the mast from this site."

T-Mobile were unavailable for comment as we went to press.

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