11
Sep
2005

PLANS TO INSTALL MASTS REJECTED

Kent Courier

15:00 - 09 September 2005

Two mobile phone companies have lost their fight to install nine masts on the roof of a warehouse in Southborough.

Communication giants T-Mobile and O2 initially applied to Tunbridge Wells Borough Council for planning permission to erect the steel antennas, which act as mini mobile phone masts, in Draper Street in August last year.

But the authority refused the application because the proposal would have a pontentially detrimental effect to the character and appearance of the Southborough Conservation Area and would not be in keeping with the fabric of the existing building.

There were also concerns about the volume of radio frequency emissions.

In January, an appeal was launched against the refusal but now the Planning Inspectorate has thrown it out on the grounds that, while there is a need for better network coverage in the area, the scheme would "create somewhat bulky and alien features out of keeping with the form of the host building, which would be highly visible from both private residential property and public viewpoints".

The decision is a relief to residents, who have seen a flurry of masts erected in the area during the last few years.

After six similar antennas were given the go ahead on the same warehouse roof last year, residents living in the adjacent Castle Street were even considering moving house.

Elaine Cardon-Llach has been fighting a battle for almost two years to stop a 12ft mast being installed near her house between Harlands Way and Birchwood Avenue.

She said: "I'm shocked because they [mobile phone companies] usually win on appeal and the term 'conservation area' means nothing these days."

But the London Road resident did not think the ruling would be the start of a trend to stop other masts being erected.
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