Plans for a phone mast in Burnham-On-Sea to be moved onto the town’s seafront have been turned down by town planners this week.
Burnham town council’s planning committee discussed the matter on Tuesday night and suggested that the 15 metre-high mast be sited at the rear of Somerfield supermarket instead.
Two residents who live near the Marine Rescue Centre on the seafront – where O2 had proposed the mast be located – addressed the meeting to object against the plans.
Sheila Smith told councillors: “It’s difficult to find a more detrimental place for this mast than on the seafront.”
“This is planning by stealth. There’s been no consultation of local people; just one A4 sized poster placed on a lamp post nearby.”
“We strongly object to the mast being sited here and suggest it goes to another location, such as the Yacht Club, away from the seafront.”
Committee chairman Peter Clayton said: “A number of different locations have been investigated, including Burnham Yacht Club, Broadhurst Gardens, Oxford Street and even Sunspot Amusements, but in each case the sites have not provided the desired coverage.”
But Councillor Ken Smout said: “There are always going to be problems with coverage in a built-up area where there are lots of dwellings.”
He added: “I have to say that I don’t notice the mast in its current location on Marine Drive any longer – you just get used to it and forget it’s there after a while – and I live not too far away.”
“People should remember that these masts are not there to look nice, they’re supposed to be technically effective.”
He suggested that the rear of the Somerfield supermarket, pictured right, could be a suitable location, although the owners of the Play Centre in Pier Street are likely to be object.
The Planning Committee is to ask for a feasability study to be conducted on other alternative locations for the mast in town.
The meeting came after mobile phone operator O2 submitted a pre-planning enquiry in April asking to move the mast from Marine Drive, pictured at the top of this page, to the Marine Rescue Centre on the seafront.
An enforcement order was placed on it, demanding that the structure be moved because it has been in place for more than six months.
The mast was introduced onto Marine Drive last autumn after the structure at Pepperal Road in Highbridge was removed, leaving the town with poor quality mobile phone coverage and hampering communications for marine rescue teams.