No to phone mast plan

A mobile phone company will not be allowed to erect a mast in Durham City after planners ruled the installation would be too ugly.

More than 120 people wrote to Durham City Council opposing a plan by 02UK to erect a 12m mast on land at the junction of Crossgate Peth and The Avenue.

The site is near St Margaret's Primary School and at the point of Crossgate Peth where the school crossing patrol operates.

Mobile phone companies are legally allowed to put masts on or near footpaths, provided they do not cause a hazard to pedestrians.

Parents of pupils at the school objected on health grounds, even though planners give little or no consideration to the issue of health
because the Government has ruled the masts are safe.

But planners are obliged to take into account the visual impact of the application, particularly as the mast would have been erected in Durham City's central conservation area.

A report to the city council's development control committee giving reasons for the refusal says: "The proposal by virtue of its siting and appearance fails to preserve or enhance the character and appearance of the conservation area"

The City of Durham Trust and the council's conservation department objected to the mast on visual grounds.

"We didn't make any comments on the health because we are no experts," said the trust's Roger Cornwell.

"The phone company said the area was not residential, but there are 15 properties within 50m of the proposed site.

"I counted about 127 other objectors - if only we could get that many for major applications."

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