Residents to fight phone giant's mast appeal

May 24 2007

DESPITE being told that it would be "visually intrusive", a mobile phone company has appealed against the refusal of planning permission to extend its phone mast.

Orange had applied to increase the height of its phone mast on the roof of Calbrook Cars, in Eastwick Road, Bookham, from 15 metres to 20 metres.

The reason for the original application, which was lodged last December,was that it was intending to share the mast with two other mobile phone operators, Hutchison 3G and T-Mobile, and the mast would therefore need to be bigger.

However, the plans were refused by the district council on February 9 because of they were considered to be an eyesore both by the council and by Bookham residents.

Clive Smith, head of planning at Mole Valley District Council, in refusing the application said: "The proposed telecommunication column, by reason of its height and prominent siting,would be a visually intrusive feature, detrimental to the appearance of the locality and outlook from nearby residential properties."

But the grounds of Orange's appeal, which was lodged this month, were that there has already been a mast in place for the past 10 years which has become part of the scenery.

It also appealed on the grounds that planning permission for a 20-metre mast in the same location had been granted in 1999 but that the permission had since expired.

Bookham Residents' Association has said that the site has already become overdeveloped and that masts could be put up in less conspicuous areas.

Peter Seaward, chairman of the association, said: "There are a number of local residents who have complained to us and we are supporting their concerns on this matter.

"We think making the mast larger will make it even more intrusive and we feel as far as this site is concerned that enough is enough."

As well as the size of the mast, residents have been worried about health issues as the mast would be sending off stronger signals than before.

Sandra Rigby, of Eastwick Road, said: "We as residents are very strongly against this development and will oppose the appeal as well.

"It is the possible health effects that these masts might have that I am concerned about, especially as I suffer from migraines and I don't know whether the masts and the signals they send off are aggravating the problem or not."

© owned by or licensed to Trinity Mirror Southern Limited 2007

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