Squeezed out: Orange mast plan

Camden New Journal - by RICHARD OSLEY

Published 23 November 2006

Mobile firm given short shrift

MOBILE phone giants Orange have become the first operators to see plans for a new phone mast torn up by a committee of Camden planners.

The company wants to improve reception in the West Hampstead area but came up against a storm of protest from residents when it tried to place a pole antenna in Dynham Road.

While deluged with letters about health worries, planners cannot legally take such opposition in to account.

The strict national rules have meant scores of mast applications have already been approved in Camden without even reaching the sight of a committee of elected councillors.

But planning chiefs turned Orange’s application on its head on Thursday night by refusing the plans on the grounds that it would clutter the residential street. Nine out of 12 councillors on the panel voted against.
Deputy planning chairman Councillor David Abrahams said: “I can’t accept that this is the best possible site for a eight-metre pole. I think it’s completely wrong.”

The news was welcomed by residents who turned up at the planning meeting to protest.

Simon Holmes, who lives in the street, told the meeting: “There should be proper consultation between the residents, operators and the council.”

He said that the mast would block views from his young daughter’s bedroom window.

His concerns were matched in a series of written protests sent to councillors by neighbours.

Nichola McKerrow, one of the objectors, said: “It is my understanding the council’s policy to reduce the street scene clutter not to increase it.

Bollards, a lamp post, two traffic signs, a cabinet, a bench, a small tree and a flowerbed already exist in the area – this is enough.”

Lib Dem finance chief Councillor Janet Grauberg, a ward councillor, also spoke against the application.

But there was a word of caution from one of the committee’s most experienced heads.

Conservative councillor Mike Greene said that he had fought mobile phone mast applications elsewhere but that he felt forced to vote in favour of this one.

He said the refusal opened the Town Hall to a costly appeal case which Camden was bound to lose. The council’s planning department had recommended that the proposals were approved.

Cllr Greene said: “The situation is deeply unsatisfactory. It is horrible that people should have to live next to a mast. But I don’t think we have a cat in hell’s chance of winning this. We are not going to win on appeal.”

Liberal Democrat Councillor Flick Rea added: “They do cause an enormous amount of concern amongst residents, rightly or wrongly. There is an alternative. We could all discard our mobiles. We are in a stuck position until we are allowed to take people’s distress and worries over phone masts into account.”

All content © New Journal Enterprises, 2006



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