Hope of resolution in phone mast row

NEGOTIATIONS to relocate a controversial mobile phone mast in an Essex town have taken a step forward.

Roddy Ashworth

NEGOTIATIONS to relocate a controversial mobile phone mast in an Essex town have taken a step forward.

A barrage of complaints and objections were received by Colchester Borough Council when telecoms company O2 applied to erect the mast in Norman Way, Lexden.

As a result, the authority's planning committee refused to allow it to be built at the site, which is close to St Mary's School, Colchester County High School for Girls and St Benedict's College.

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But due to an administrative error the council's refusal came too late and missed the legal deadline, meaning O2 were automatically given permission to go ahead.

In order to resolve the difficulty the authority tried to find an alternative site for the mast.

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Yesterday Lyn Barton, planning and regeneration portfolio holder, said it had found a position in the rural Hilly Fields area that could be used.

“We have worked tirelessly with O2 over the last couple of weeks to find an alternative site for the mast,” she said. “O2 has confirmed that one of the alternative sites put forward by the council meets their technical requirements.

“The site will be Hilly Fields, instead of Norman Way, which we think is the best possible outcome.

“We are continuing to liaise with O2 on a regular basis and we anticipate a fresh 'prior notification application' for a mast from O2 to be submitted very shortly. This will be the subject of local consultation.”

A spokesman for O2 said the company was pleased with the co-operation from the council and was more than happy with the outcome.

“We are very pleased that they came back and spoke to us, especially considering the fact that the councillors were against it and this caused a bit of turmoil,” he said. “As a company we believe in local democracy and the more people that are happy the better. We are glad everything has worked out well.”

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