Row over 'phone mast chimneys'

By Tony Belshaw

Unhappy: Phone mast protesters at the junction of Osbourne Road and Union Road Nether Edge Picture: Barry Richardson

False chimneys: Graphic of how the proposed Henry Hall chimneys that will house mobile phone masts will look


HORRIFIED residents in Nether Edge are opposing plans to place six mobile phone antennae on the roof of a building.

Vodaphone wants to hide the antennae in two false chimney stacks at either end of Henry Hall, on the corner of Union Road and Osbourne Road.

The firm say they're needed because the company must quit its present site on Sheffield Hallam University's Psalter Lane campus. That building is due to be redeveloped into flats.

More than a dozen other sites were considered including the roofs of Psalter Lane Salvation Army HQ, and St Andrew's Church on Psalter Lane.

The Georgian Henry Hall building is currently occupied by a shopfitting company.

Richard Ward, of Osbourne Road, a former chairman of the Nether Edge Neighbourhood Group, said if the proposal went ahead it would set a dangerous precedent for the conservation area.

He said building false chimneys on long established buildings was contrary to everything the conservation area stands for.

Protestors are planning a petition and lobbying their councillors in a bid to block the plan.Mr Ward said: "If this is allowed to go ahead in Nether Edge it will set a precedent. I believe that if I applied to build six chimneys on top of my house I would be turned down.

"Nether Edge Conservation Area is the largest in the city.

"The changes clearly affect the architectural integrity of the building. It could be argued they establish a precedent for unnecessary alterations to key buildings of historical interest."

He added longer term public health impact of mobile phone related radiation sources were not known, and that house prices could be affected.

Rachael Neal, also of Osbourne Road, added: "The consultation has been poor. Even the closest resident to the proposed masts was not leafleted. We feel it is like they are trying to sneak it in by the back door."

The firm will submit a planning application later this month.

Dr Rob Matthews from Vodaphone said: "We haven't submitted a planning application yet. We have written to local councillors, the planning department, we've sent letters to local residents and we've put site notices up. We have also set up a website.

"In this case we felt that the use of fake chimneys would help the antennae to blend in with the surroundings in a residential area."

The plans can be found on the internet at //www.planninginformationpack.com and protesters have set up their own website - //www.stopthemast.org.uk

All rights reserved ©2007 Johnston Press Digital Publishing

//www.sheffieldtoday.net/news?articleid=2923367

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