St Leonards residents lose battle against proposed mast

SCORES of angry residents have lost their fight against proposals to put a mobile phone mast near their homes.

People living in The Suttons, off Crowhurst Road, in St Leonards, and neighbouring streets, signed a petition in protest at plans by Vodafone to erect the 20-metre-high mast on a highway verge north of Crowhurst Road.

They blasted the scheme as an eyesore and criticised developers for wanting to sight it so close to houses and near The St Leonards Academy’s Darwell campus (formerly The Grove).

Around 70 people living in the neighbourhood signed the petition but councillors unanimously gave the scheme the go-ahead at their planning committee meeting.

Susan Stewart, of The Suttons, and speaking on behalf of residents, said there was not enough time for people to voice their objections as not all residents received notification letters about the proposals.

She said: “The mast is well above the tree line and relatively close to the road and will add to roadside clutter.”

Mrs Stewart said people were concerned about the health issues of emitted radiation from masts.

Residents also said the proposal flew in the face of the Government’s own Stewart Report, which says that no additional masts should be erected at existing sites. There is already another mast near the proposed site.

Ray Crawford, borough planning officer, said: “We sent letters out to everyone living within 50 metres of the proposed site. There is no doubt that everyone in the area knew about it given the petition people signed.

“The applicants did go through a process of considering other sites but this was the only one they considered acceptable.”

Cllr Peter Pragnell said the level of emitted radiation would be ‘minor’ and Cllr Maureen Charlesworth suggested the mast could be disguised as a tree so as to obscure it from people’s view.

After the meeting, Councillor Phil Scott, councillor for Wishing Tree ward, said: “I, along with residents, am really disappointed that this has been given the go-ahead, as there were concerns about the consultation process and the actual siting of the mast.

“The jury is still very much out on what impact radiation from masts will have so there are real concerns.

“I did request of the committee that it refuse outright or defer for a further and more meaningful consultation process with local residents which would have enabled Vodafone and 02 to consider further options further up Queensway and away from residential homes. Sadly the committee did not share our concerns.”