14
Okt
2005

Residents go bananas over Orange mast

Oct 14 2005

By Brian Haran

THE future's far from bright, the future's Orange for a group of aggrieved Caterham residents.

They are furious they were not consulted over a 25-foot tall mobile phone mast which has been installed on Coulsdon Road in front of the Tesco store.

The Orange mast, which is opposite the irate complainants' homes, was put up last month much to locals' surprise and horror. It followed the previous rejection of five other mast schemes within yards of the site.

Story continues

But a top council officer insists that consultation letters had been sent out to about 20 homes - and that the mast could only have been rejected under "exceptional" circumstances.

Kelly Annetts, a 22-year-old call centre operator who lives in Coulsdon Road, has compiled a 34-name petition objecting to the mast.

She said: "We only found out when we asked a workman why he was digging up the road.

"None of those on the petition were informed about this and I feel angry that residents have been left helpless over something as important as this."

Miss Annetts has made a formal complaint to the council over its handling of the affair.

Near-neighbour Kay Rogers, a 60-year-old hairdresser, said her petition last year against another phone mast on a neighbouring site had culminated in the proposal being rejected.

She said: "This latest site is 20 yards away. If they can turn one down so close to here, how can they possibly allow this to go ahead? And how can they imagine no one would oppose this latest one?"

Heather Woods, 60, who lives around the corner in Wellington Road, said: "It's disgusting that our views have not been taken into account. Why does it have to be put up in such a built-up area with so many homes nearby?"

Bob Evans, Tandridge District Council's director of environmental protection, said the mast was "permitted development" which meant it could only have been turned down for extra-special reasons.

Some of the other mast schemes nearby which were rejected were for much taller structures.

Mr Evans said checks had been made to confirm that the consultation letters had been sent out, but accepted that a Royal Mail glitch would not be in the council's hands.

And the council's chief executive, Stephen Weigel, said its complaints officer was compiling a report on Miss Annetts' grievance.

He said that sending out letters in batches could conceivably mean that they could all go missing.

In future, he added, the council would try to stagger mail-outs so that even if some residents did not receive the letters, their neighbours would.

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