VOTE: Way cleared so that a ‘massive’ mast is built

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The way is now clear for the construction of a ‘massive’ 41ft high telecommunications mast and 88 cubic foot equipment cabin in a sensitive Chichester location.

This follows a warning to district councillors that refusal of the scheme could result in two masts being built in the same area, at the junction of Norwich Road and St Paul’s Road.

For procedural reasons, the southern development control committee delegated a final decision to planning officers.

But the fact that the committee is not raising objections to the scheme, a shared facility for 02 and Vodafone, means it is set to be given the go-ahead, under permitted development rights.

Area planning manager Peter Filtness told the committee there was an existing permission for a development on the proposed site, as a result of an earlier appeal against refusal of consent which was allowed by a government inspector.

If the council refused permission now, it was likely the applicant would appeal, and obtain costs against the council. It was then possible 02 would build the mast which already had permission, and that the other operator would go for another site in the same area.

“There is then a real possibility we could have two masts here,” he warned.

If the proposed scheme was implemented, it would provide for the two operators.

Chris Lindsay, chairman of East Broyle Residents’ Association, said a very large number of objections had been submitted.

All they were asking for was that the scheme should be moved a few metres, into a hedgerow, where existing utilities successfully housed and camouflaged their equipment.

The application failed the telecommunications policy because it would have unacceptable adverse effects on the amenities of local people, and because no investigation had been made of alternative sites that would have less impact.

The district council was not only the planning authority, but also owned a possible alternative site.

Alan Green, chairman of the Conservation Area Advisory Committee, said the bulky structure would mar a superb view across the city to the cathedral, and impinge on approaches to the city and its conservation area.

The applicant had not explored any alternative sites. With some goodwill and financial outlay by the applicant, and the co-operation of the landowner, a more acceptable solution could be found.

Cllr Pam Dignum said the mast was needed, but not in this location.

And Cllr Tricia Tull said the location was a no-brainer, if the mast could be put behind bushes.

“It’s ridiculous to blight this green entrance and exist to the city with a very uninspiring pole,” she declared.

But assistant environment director Andrew Frost said the site already had permission for a mast which could be implemented tomorrow – a Government inspector had found this site was acceptable.

If the present proposal was accepted, the chances of an application for a further mast was unlikely. If it was refused, there could be two masts.

Committee chairman Peter Clementson said he sympathised with the views of objectors; “but we have a duty to the council tax payers of the district,” he added.