Call to block telecom mast

by the staff of the Chester-le-Street Advertiser

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

Telecommunications company O2 wants to put the antennae in the middle of the Garden Farm Estate in Chester-le-Street.

The proposal for land south of Carlingford Road has sparked a letter writing campaign from residents who are opposed.

Chester-le-Street District Council has received 600 letters of protest over the issue.

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 nearest house is ten metres 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 affect road safety, could become a distraction for drivers and become a congregating point for children.

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

No one from the company was available for comment.

Council officers express their reservations about the plan in a report for the planning committee who will make a final decision next week.

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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