Mobile phone giant O2’s bid to build a five metre tall phone mast on top of Burnham-On-Sea’s Ritz Cinema looks set to be finally decided next month.

The Planning Inspectorate is holding a public inquiry on the proposals on Wednesday 7th October in the town’s Princess Hall, which is scheduled to last two days.

It comes after O2 last month won an appeal to retain its mast at the rear of Morrisons in Pier Street.

However, that permission is temporary because O2 can only remain on the site for nine months from the date it gains any permission for the mast on the Ritz Cinema, or for a period of 18 months if no consent is obtained at the Ritz.

The O2 Ritz application was initially refused by Sedgemoor District Council amid concerns about the design of the scheme, so a second application was submitted for an amended scheme. That too was refused, so O2 has appealed against the council’s decision and the appeal will be heard at the public inquiry. first reported in 2007 that O2 had submitted an application to build the mast, disguised as a flag pole, plus three antennae on the roof of the cinema in Victoria Street, pictured, in order to introduce fast 3G mobile Internet coverage across the town.

Although members of Burnham’s Planning Applications Committee gave their approval to the proposals in July 2008, the final decision rested with Sedgemoor District Council, and it turned down the application last August. Its case officer Chris Gomm said the “incongruous and alien” phone mast would be out of place in the town centre.

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