8
Jun
2005

COUNCILS AT ODDS OVER PHONE MAST APPLICATION

8/6/2005 - by Vicki Hammond

Wokingham agree to equipment cabinet but Bracknell refuse antenna

CONFLICTING decisions by two bordering local authorities has meant a mobile phone giant has permission to site its phone equipment but not to build the mast.

Orange had to submit applications to both Bracknell Forest Borough Council and Wokingham District Council because it wanted to put up a mobile phone mast on one side of a main road and the associated cabinet and equipment on the other side.

The mast, which was set to be 12 metres high with three panel antennae and one link antenna, was to be situated in Old Wokingham Road, which comes under the authority of Bracknell Forest Borough Council.

But the cabinet and equipment was to be located on the opposite side of the same road, at its junction with Rowan Drive, falling into the authority of Wokingham District Council.

A bizarre set of planning regulations meant Orange was told it could have permission to build the cabinet but was not allowed to build the telephone mast. The applications were submitted in April and the decisions were made by planning chiefs from each council last month.

Resident John Field, of Rowan Drive, organised a petition against the phone mast last November when Orange first consulted residents living within close proximity of the site. More than 300 people put pen to paper to illustrate their objections but Orange still submitted its application in April.

Mr Field said he and other campaigners were delighted with Bracknell’s decision to reject the phone mast and added they were ‘confused’ about Wokingham’s verdict. He said: “Clearly we are over the moon about Bracknell’s response in rejecting the phone mast which was all that we have ever asked for. “But Wokingham’s decision remains mysterious to say the least as you cannot have one without the other.

“Our objections seem to have held water as far as Bracknell is concerned but we have no idea why Wokingham has given approval for the cabinet. “There is no point having a cabinet when there is no mast, it really is a bizarre situation.”

He also questioned the communication between both councils, and asked if there was any consultation before the decisions were made. “Where is the communication?” he asked. “It seems as if the two authorities work like isolated islands.”

A spokeswoman for Wokingham District Council confirmed there was consultation between both councils but said that each authority had to make its own decision. She said: “We did consult with Bracknell about this and Bracknell did consult with us because the applications were on the border. “As a planning authority we [WDC] can only make a decision on the application which is directly submitted to us. In this case we looked at the application for the cabinet and it was given approval on its own merit.

“They [BFBC] have obviously decided that the mast was unsuitable and have refused it. “It is an unusual situation because the phone mast fell across two areas covered by two different authorities.”
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