Residents celebrate as plans for 25metre Silksworth phone mast are scrapped

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Residents are celebrating after plans for a massive 5G phone mast just yards from their home were scrapped.

The 25m tall mast, which would have provided next generation coverage for four networks, was planned for land at the rear of Silksworth Comrades Club in John Street, New Silksworth, and would have replaced existing equipment on the club roof. But the planning application has now been withdrawn after a number of objections were received.

One resident, whose home is almost next to the site, said she was ‘elated’ to hear the proposal had been dropped. "I think they have been a bit taken aback and have thought ‘We don’t want to be involved in this’,” she said. "I am absolutely delighted and I have spoken to a couple of neighbours – they are over the moon.”

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Local ward councillor Phil Tye said he had been pleased with the developer’s response to residents’ concerns: “I sat down with the developer and offered to work closely with them on refining their plans, which I have to say, they’ve been really receptive to,” he said. “As a community, there’s no hiding from the fact that 5G is essential to ensuring our businesses and residents can remain connected, but this can’t be at the expense of our quality of life and I’m hopeful that, by working with - as opposed to against - the developer, we can secure the best possible outcome for everybody.”

He slammed changes to the law introduced by the Government after plans for a similar mast in Sunderland were rejected. “In February, after we stopped a mast from being built on the edge of Tunstall Hill, the Conservative Government changed the planning rules to prevent local councils from refusing any further masts, including areas such as nature reserves and national parks,” said Coun Tye.

“In reality, this means it’s as easy for a developer to erect a mast in a sensitive area as it is for you or me to build a minor extension at our home or install a new garden fence. The entire concept is nonsense, it’s nothing other than a cynical attempt to take away local opposition from the very people that will have to live with the developments day in, day out.”

A spokesman for planning agent Entrust Services said the firm had agreed to work with the community to find an alternative site but emphasised the need for a mast in the area, saying: “We have decided to withdraw the application given the interest from the local community.

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“We intend to revisit the design of this mast, which accommodates all four networks, and we would welcome input regarding suitability of any proposal. Many of the local community are paying subscribers to the four mobile networks and it is essential that we come up with an adequate solution to ensure that coverage is maintained at an appropriate level for all network users.

The mast was due to be located at the rear of Silksworth Comrades ClubThe mast was due to be located at the rear of Silksworth Comrades Club
The mast was due to be located at the rear of Silksworth Comrades Club

"The current coverage solution will not accommodate upgraded technologies which will, in time, have a negative impact on connectivity resulting in restrictions for local residents, local businesses, emergency services and wider social inclusion in the area.”