Hostile reception for phone mast plan

Mobile phone operator Hutchison 3G has received a hostile reponse to plans to put a new mast at "the gateway" to Kenilworth.

The company hopes to erect a 12.5m aerial capable of transmitting picture and video signals on the grass verge outside the De Montfort Hotel.
It needs the mast to improve reception in the town centre but claims opposition from businesses is the reason for placing sites near pavements and not on top of buildings.

The company considered 29 sites, including outside the Bear and Ragged Staff pub and the Shell garage, both in Warwick Road.

Plans by rival operator O2 for a mast in Abbey End were recently refused planning permission.

And a 13-page consultation document from Hutchison received short shrift from Kenilworth Town Council planning committee on November 9.

Coun Michael Coker said he could not understand why the firm had admitted the mast would look out of place at other sites in the town centre but decided outside the De Montfort Hotel would be acceptable.

He added: "We are hoping to have a civic centre on the other side of the road, we are hoping the De Montfort will renovate itself. This is the last place we want another intrusion."

Coun Pat Ryan said: "It is a very big structure to have right in the gateway to the town and will intrude very much into the Abbey End area.

"The reason for the problem is that no business is happy to have these things on its building.

"The intensity of microwave radiation from these aerials are much higher than from previous generations.

"This raises the question of whether we are willing to countenance them on the public highway where people are walking past."

Coun Doug Golby (Lib Dem, Park Hill) said he understood the business community had a need for the masts, but Coun George Illingworth (Con, Abbey) told the meeting the only demand was from "kids sending photos to each other."

He added: "Of all the sites they could have picked, this is the worst."

And Coun Alison Tyler (Lib Dem, Park Hill) said: "If they have struggled hard to find a site, they haven't struggled hard enough."

No one from Hutchison was available for comment when the Weekly News went to press.

15 November 2006

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