Plans for 5G mast near Sunderland's Tunstall Hills rejected after concerns raised
Proposals for a new 5G mast close to a Sunderland beauty spot have been turned down by planning chiefs.
Back in September 2021, an application was lodged for land at The Precinct for a 20-metre monopole supporting six antennas and two transmission dishes – just metres away from residents’ bedrooms.
Applicant Cornerstone Telecommunications aimed to replace an existing 15-metre monopole in the Silksworth ward as part of a “continued network improvement program” to provide new 5G coverage.
According to council planning documents, “5G signal is particularly susceptible to clipping and is more prone to be obstructed by trees or taller structures.”
As a result, the proposals to increase the height of the mast aimed to “take account of this susceptibility and to ensure that the 5G antennas oversail any intervening clutter to fully service the target area.”
During consultation however, council planners received 13 representations from neighbours raising concerns about the development.
This ranged from loss of heritage, privacy and visual amenity to increased noise and health concerns – alongside impacts on the setting of Tunstall Hills Local Nature Reserve and the Site of Special Scientific Interest nearby.
One objector added that the new mast would also lead to the “destruction of one of the most beautiful skylines.”
After considering all representations, Sunderland City Council’s planning department refused the application on Wednesday, October 27.
The main reasons for refusal included the development causing harm to the character of the area and the amenity of neighbours.
A decision report from council planners reads: “Whilst the proposed installation would not cause harm to highway safety, it is considered that by reason of its position, height and bulk the monopole would cause demonstrable harm to the character and appearance of the area and the residential amenity of the nearby properties.
“The proposed design is therefore not considered to be sympathetic to the character and appearance of the area and therefore fails to adhere to the National Planning Policy Framework and policies […] of the council’s Core Strategy Development Plan.”
The decision on the 5G mast has been welcomed by Silksworth ward councillor Phil Tye, who previously campaigned against its installation.
As part of the council consultation on the development, the councillor also lodged an objection raising concerns about the proposed location and impacts on the local environment and nearby residents.
Cllr Tye added: “I am extremely pleased that planners have rejected this application and have supported myself and residents who were concerned about the impact of a 20-metre mast with six antennas right in front of Tunstall Hills.
“As a local councillor and a councillor who represents residents in a digital smart city, it is important we’re ahead of the game when it comes to technology but that cannot be at the detriment of the local landscape and health concerns.
“I hope the developer works with us in finding an alternative site where the mast can be away from people’s homes and recreational space rather than a lengthy costly appeal that would certainly not be in the best interests of residents, the council or the telecoms providers.
“Telecoms companies need to respect the views of the residents who are ultimately their customers too.”
For more information on the application and council decision, visit Sunderland City Council’s online planning portal and search reference: 21/02084/FUL