People power wins the day in mast battle
PASSIONATE people power has forced planners to reject proposals to erect a 12-metre high mobile phone mast in Peterborough.
Telecommunications giant Orange had hoped to put up the mast, designed to look like a lamp post, on a grass verge opposite the Thorpe Hall Hospice at the junction of Thorpe Road and Audley Gate.
But after objecting residents submitted a 109-signature petition and received backing from all three West Ward councillors, city MP Stewart Jackson and city council leader Cllr Marco Cereste, the plans were rejected by Peterborough City Council’s planning committee yesterday at the Town Hall.
Orange had applied to build it there because its current mast for the area is currently on the roof of Peterborough District Hospital and will be lost when the site is demolished and redeveloped.
But residents raised concerns that the new mast would look out of place near to their homes.
Speaking at the meeting, resident John Drewnicky said: “Yes, it may look like street lighting but it is three metres higher than the other lighting in the area.
“This is happening because the existing mast is being moved from the hospital. There are areas there that are not being re-developed but they have not been suggested.”
Objections were also raised by Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson who raised concerns about the mast’s proximity to homes in Audley Gate, Thorpe Road and Thorpe Park Road.
He also complained about its location near to a major pedestrian route to Jack Hunt School, in Netherton, and the loss of visibility it will cause drivers at the busy road junction.
West Ward councillors Nick Arculus, Matthew Dalton and Samantha Dalton all objected claiming the mast would have an adverse impact on the area’s character.
While council leader Marco Cereste waded in to ask planning officers to look for a potential new site for the mast because of the volume of residents’ complaints.
City council planning officers recommended that the application be refused and after a short discussion, the nine councillors on the committee, went along their recommenda- tion.
They rejected the proposals on the basis that they would not be in keeping with the area’s character, particularly as it would be taller than the other lamp posts.
A spokesperson for Orange said they would decide in the near future if they will appeal. She added: “Orange are currently searching for replacement sites in the area as we have been asked to vacate our existing site at Peterborough District Hospital due to re-development work.
“The site in Thorpe Road would be required, along with three other sites, to maintain the level of coverage that we are currently providing our customers in the area once the existing site is removed from the network.
“During our planning process we try to take the local surroundings and existing street furniture into account to ensure phone masts are as visually unobtrusive as possible.
“Naturally we are disappointed that our planning application has been refused.”
VICTORIOUS: Cllr Nick Arculus with John Drewnicki and Longthorpe residents who have succesfully opposed the building of a mobile phone mas