Sedgemoor District Council has this week rejected plans for a new 5G phone mast proposed to be sited next to the entrance to Highbridge’s Apex Park amid concern that it would be ‘detrimental’.
The district council has reviewed a proposal from Hutchison UK Limited for a 15-metre tall mast on the grass verge besides Marine Drive, next to the entrance to the park.
The application is “to determine if prior approval is required for proposed installation of a 15 metre-high monopole supporting 6 antennas and 2 transmission dishes, 4 equipment cabinets and development works.”
Sedgemoor District Council’s Parks and Open Spaces department, which oversees Apex, has said the proposals “would be detrimental to the visual appearance of our award-winning wildlife and leisure park.”
And Burnham and Highbridge Town Council also lodged an objection against the proposed location of the mast, agreeing that it would be “detrimental.”
Sedgemoor’s Development Management team has this week told the telecoms firm that Prior Approval will be required and that its initial application has been refused. The firm is likely to come back with amended plans.
Sedgemoor’s planning case officer says in a report on the proposal: “The proposed development will be erected within a suburban setting, upon a grass verge that forms part of the amenity space associated with the access to Apex Park; a key public recreational space that is an important asset to the area. It is considered that the siting of the mast and associated equipment in such close proximity to the entrance of the park will result in a detrimental impact to its setting and would erode the quality of the visual amenity of the
She adds: “Whilst there are a number of other structures, such as CCTV mast, flag poles and lampposts within the vicinity, it is considered that due to the height of the proposed mast, that the presence of these other structures would not mitigate the visual impact of the development proposed.”
“Within the submitted documents, the developer has indicated that there were alternative sites opposite the park entrance, but these were considered as unsuitable. Minimal justification for this conclusion has been provided.”
Town councillors spoke out against the location of the mast during a recent meeting of the Council’s Planning Applications Committee, as we reported here.
Cllr Louise Parkin told the meeting: “It’s planned at the entrance to Apex Park, our beautiful area of recreation. I don’t agree with it at all. There must be somewhere just a little bit off the site to one side where it can go. I don’t agree with it here one iota.”
Cllr Bill Hancock also strongly opposed the Apex Park site: “I completely agree with Cllr Parkin on this. It would be an eyesore for people coming into the town and I think it would look absolutely horrendous there. Yes, we need tech for the next generation, but the next generation will have to look at this too. It would be a bloody eyesore. I’m sorry. I’m 100% against having it there.”
But Committee Chairman Cllr Andy Brewer responded: “I’ve got mixed views on it. We are in a technologically developing era and a lot of us like the facilities that we get with modern technology. We like stronger mobile phone signals, better internet access and quicker Internet speeds, so we need the improved infrastructure. There’s a price for it: there can be ugly telecoms masts going up. So we need to strike a balance.”
Cllr Brewer shared a map of the proposed location for the mast and then talked through a possible new site for it: “Look to the left by the fire station and there’s a training tower that, to my view, would be a lot more appropriate. It wouldn’t look out of place. It would be a little bit less conspicuous.”
Cllr Hancock responded: “I am totally in agreeance,” and Cllr Parkin added: “It’s a very good suggestion.”
Councillors agreed to propose that the mast be sited near the fire station training tower due to the Marine Drive site being “detrimental to the visual amenity of Apex Park and the open area there.”
The applicant is likely to submit a separate planning application when the public will also be able to submit their views.