Plans for phone mast near Sunderland homes rejected for a second time

George Sanderson and residents from in and around Dykelands road in Seaburn with the petition against plans to build a phone mast in the TA centre grounds.

George Sanderson and residents from in and around Dykelands road in Seaburn with the petition against plans to build a phone mast in the TA centre grounds.

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CONTROVERSIAL plans to build a 50ft phone mast near Wearside homes have been rejected for a second time.

Last year, protesters scored a victory over one of Britain’s biggest mobile phone companies after it unveiled plans to build a multi-antenna telecommunications tower near their properties in Seaburn.

Vodafone had applied for planning permission to construct it in TA centre grounds.

But neighbours living close to the proposed site in Dykelands Road vowed to fight the proposals and put together a 300-name petition.

They emerged victorious after Sunderland city councillors rejected the plan.

Now, after the firm resubmitted amended plans, members of the Development Control North Sunderland Sub-Committee have refused it permission again.

Speaking at a planning meeting, Coun Philip Tye said: “It has been referred to as a monstrosity by residents and I agree with that. The company is not taking into consideration the wishes of the people who live in the area.”

Previously, objectors said the proposed lattice-type mast would normally be seen in an industrial estate rather than a residential area, branding it an “eyesore”.

Despite the latest plans dropping the controversial structure in favour of a single street pole design, councillors still expressed concerns about its “visible impact”.

Speaking after the meeting, resident Paul Tulloch said he was “very happy” with the outcome.

The campaign has attracted hundreds of supporters, including Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott.

“The mast is totally out of character with the local area,” he said.  

“There are alternative sites. Some of them are not as close to residential areas.”

Vodafone had sought to reassure householders about the safety of phone masts and stressed the need to build them in residential neighbourhoods.

The firm said only eight of 60 surrounding houses would face the mast and, because the telecommunications industry was developing at an incredible rate, it was necessary to have such installations with antenna to keep up with the coverage.

The application is one of a number received throughout the city following the formation of a strategic partnership between O2 and Vodafone to “share mobile assets” across Europe.

The agreement is intended to allow both organisations to consolidate the number of base stations required through mast sharing and reduce the environmental impact of network development.

Vodafone said one of the aims of the agreement was to avoid the potential for proliferation of masts.

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