Phone mast plan rejected

By Benjamin Parkes

Plans to put up a mobile phone mast in Calne were unexpectedly thrown out by planning councillors who said the structure would spoil the image of that part of the town.

Applicant O2 wanted to build the 15-metre mast with two pavement cabinets on the corner of The Pippin behind the Oxford Road Liberal Club and promised to make it look like surrounding streetlights to minimise visual impact.

That promise wasn't enough for councillors on the North Wiltshire District Council planning committee who agreed with objections from residents and rejected the application on January 10.

Chairman Toby Sturgis, a Conservative, read out a letter from Calne resident Patricia Cullop, which said: "Anyone with half a brain would see that putting this gross pole in the middle of the town would discourage people from visiting and ruin the appearance of the area."

Another speaker, a resident of Calne, said: "The visual amenity of Oxford Road would be impaired by this mast and I think the equipment boxes would cause obstructions for blind people and those with mobility problems."

Conservative councillor Tony Trotman said: "There were 14 letters of objection written by residents and rightly so.

"The scale and the size of the mast is inappropriate especially since it is at the start of a conservation area leading down to The Pippin.

"It beggars belief that O2 could even consider this as a good position for a phone mast."

A representative for the mobile phone company, who was present at the meeting, said: "O2 wants to provide a good phone signal to the people of the area, indeed we have an obligation to improve our service in rural locations.

"We conducted a wide search of the area and selected this site because it is on top of a hill and in the town centre.

"We have taken the appearance of the area into account and the mast would be disguised as a lamppost."

Liberal Democrat councillor Helen Dixon disputed whether the disguise would work.

She said: "This pole is 15-metres high but I have never seen any lampposts that tall. It is too big to replicate a street light and would impact negatively on the local environment."

A district council planning officer, who recommended the mast plan be approved, said: "Unfortunately everyone wants to use mobile phones but nobody wants the masts that provide the network coverage, in their communities."

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