8
Jun
2005

Protestors call for block on plans for estate phone mast

This is East Durham

PLANNERS are being urged to block an application to install a 12-metre high mobile phone mast in a north Durham estate.

Telecommunications company O2 wants to put the mast on land south of Carlingford Road , on the Garden Farm Estate, in Chester-le-Street .

Chester-le-Street District Council has received up to 600 letters objecting to the application.

The campaign was started by Garden Farm Residents' Association and supported by south ward Councillor Linda Ebbatson.

Coun Ebbatson, who is also council leader, said: "It is a wholly inappropriate site for the installation as it is a central location in the estate, which is virtually open plan.

"It would be very intrusive and affect the visual amenity. We want to upgrade this area, not downgrade."

Other residents are opposed to the mast because of health fears and feel it is too near their properties. The closest house is ten minutes from the site.

Householders also feel the mast will devalue their properties and that potential noise could affect their sleeping patterns.

Protestors fear the mast could diminish road safety, could become a distraction for drivers, and become a meeting point for youngsters.

O2 wants to strengthen its third generation mobile phone coverage in the area.

No one from the company was available for comment when contacted by The Northern Echo.

Council officers have written a report with recommendations for the planning committee which will make a final decision.

It said: "In this instance, the height of the proposed installation, relevant to other buildings and street furniture in the area, is considered to represent a form of development inappropriate for the proposed location, which would be harmful to the character and visual amenity of the area.

"It is considered that the applicants have failed to submit the appropriate justification of the need for the development.

"They have failed to adequately demonstrate that any alleged need could not be met, via the installation of an antenna on existing buildings in the surrounding area."

The planning committee meets at Chester-le-Street Civic Centre on Monday.
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