Planning inspector to decide planning application for 'eyesore' mobile phone mast in Bishop's Stortford
A Government planning inspector will decide if a 15m (49ft) mobile phone mast can be erected at Havers in Bishop’s Stortford.
Local planning authority East Herts Council (EHC) refused an application from Hutchison 3G UK Ltd to site the monopole and four equipment cabinets at the junction of Elizabeth Road and Havers Lane after town and district councillors fiercely objected.
Former mayor Cllr George Cutting, a member of the town and district councils who lives nearby, had urged EHC “in the strongest possible terms” to reject the scheme.
He told council planners: "This is predominantly a residential area with some retail facilities, and the land identified is green space criss-crossed by paths to shops and pavements.
“The location is totally unsuitable for a structure of this height and mass, which is twice the height of the surrounding houses, with equipment boxes totally out of proportion. I am of the opinion this structure is overbearing to residents, out of proportion to existing structures and frankly is an eyesore.”
Officers agreed, describing the proposals as “visually intrusive and detrimental to the character and appearance of the street scene” in their refusal decision.
The planners concluded that Hutchison had not proved that it could not put the mast elsewhere or use an existing site or telecommunications equipment.
The company has appealed to the Planning Inspectorate against EHC's refusal of planning permission. It says that “rather than the council’s view that alternative sites have not been fully considered, there is a lack of suitable alternative sites and this has been fully investigated”.
Hutchison said it had explored and discounted nine other options: Mazoe Road, Thorley Hill, Tesco Express at Havers Lane, Elizabeth Road – across the road from the appeal site – Norfolk Way, the junction of Benhooks Avenue and Cemetery Road, Havers Community Centre in Waytemore Road, Twyford Business Centre and Oxford House in London Road.
At the end of the process, because there were no existing installations, rooftops or other suitable structures available, the operator concluded a new, greenfield site was required and land at the junction of Elizabeth Road and Havers Lane offered the best coverage.
The company argued: “In particular, the slim and unfussy design of the monopole, with a minimal footprint, assists in minimising impact to an acceptable level.”
However, it said six antennae would be needed to provide the required coverage and meet increased demand for fast connections from a growing number of home-workers.
Three of the antennae will provide 4G coverage and three will provide 5G, which does not pass through obstructions – hence the need for the area around the site to be clear of trees and buildings.
Hutchison has told the inspector the “minimal level” of impact will be outweighed by the “significant public benefits” of better connectivity.
The inspector will consider evidence from the company, the council and other parties in reaching their decision.