25
Aug
2005

Mast plan thrown out

Sunderland Echo

PLANS to put up 50ft mobile telephone mast in the grounds of one of Sunderland's biggest landmarks have been rejected.

Communications giant T-Mobile, which employs about 1,000 people at its Doxford Park centre, lodged the idea of a mobile mast in the grounds of Sunderland Minster in June and was ready to pay church authorities rent for using the land, though no fee was agreed.

The company said the mast – that would have been made to look like a flagpole – was necessary for the new 3G technology that allows video conferencing between users. It had mapped the city centre and plumped on the minster’s ground as the best location.

City planners said, however, the mast would be “detrimental” to views around the listed building and its conservation area around the minster.

But Canon Stephen Taylor, of Sunderland Minster, today defended the mast plans. He said: “The minster did not think there was a concern over the visual impact and nobody had ever brought that up so it is something of a surprise, I suppose it could have interrupted views of the hotel.”

T-Mobile wanted to put the mast next to steps leading into the minster’s grounds and the reception aerials and antennas would have been inside. The company believed the mast would also have been screened by trees.

Mr Taylor added: “If we are going to have 3G technology then people need to be near a mast and there will need to be one in the city centre. It will now be be up to T-Mobile to look elsewhere.”

Planning officers in their decision said the company’s plan went against planning guidelines on conservation areas, plus building in parks and next to trees.

One2One at Doxford Park was taken over by T-Mobile and last year it wanted to put a mast up the steeple at St George’s United Reformed Church in Belvedere Road – one of the most prominent landmarks on the city’s skyline.

That was rejected in a consultation exercise with neighbours before any plan was lodged with the city council.

T-Mobile was unavailable for comment.

24 August 2005
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