Phone mast wipes £50,000 off house value

Elizabeth Hopkirk, Evening Standard

21 January 2005

A WOMAN told today how a mobile phone mast has wiped £50,000 off the value of her house.

Jennifer Redman had her property valued at the start of December at between £430,000 and £440,000. Three weeks later the mast was put up on a telephone pole almost on her doorstep.

Her estate agent in the Buckinghamshire town of Marlow, immediately reduced the valuation to between £380,000 and £390,000 - a drop of more than 10%. 'I was shocked,' said Mrs Redman, who has lived in the four-bedroom house for 30 years.

'I had been thinking for some time about moving somewhere smaller because the children have left home. But I can't afford to now because I won't be able to find anything I like for £380,000. Prices in Marlow are very high.

'I had been hoping to release some capital to give to my children, but I can't now. I'm stuck. My neighbours are horrified too. One couple only moved in six months ago and they've got two small children. They wouldn't have bought the house if they'd known.'

Now she and other furious residents are consulting lawyers to see if they can have the mast, which is also close to two schools, removed.

'We had around 200 signatures on a petition but the district council have taken no notice. It makes me angry that they have overridden everyone's objections,' said Mrs Redman, 67.

The letter from Hamptons International estate agency said: 'I regret to inform you that due to the erection of the mobile phone mast and its proximity-to your property, we will need to revise the asking price of your property to around £380,000-£390,000. Our experience shows that mobile phone masts have an adverse effect on potential purchasers.'

The main concerns over mobile phone masts are their appearance and suspected health risks. Many people believe the masts are responsible for headaches and dizziness and even - in the long term - cancer. Fears for children's health are particularly serious.

David Adams, sales director at Hamptons International, said: 'There are two ways mobile phone masts affect property prices - by being close to one and actually looking out over it. In this case it's both, so it's a double whammy.'

A spokesman for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said there was no way of calculating the exact effect of a phone mast on property prices. 'You have to treat it as any other kind of blight, like being next to a smelly glue factory, a noisy garage, a cliff, a wind farm or something really ugly,' he said.

T-Mobile did not need planning permission for the mast because it is classified as street furniture. It applied to the council for permission to erect the mast on the lamp-post and paid a one-off administration fee. It does not pay rent for the site.

A T-Mobile spokesman said: 'No community is untouched by the impact of the infrastructure needed to deliver the public services modern society depends upon, whether it is roads, railways, telecommunications, radio, television or electricity.

'However, T-Mobile has a firm commitment to the environment and we work hard to minimise the visual impact of our base stations.'


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Januar 2005

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