Phone mast near school is rejected

PLANS to install a controversial mobile phone mast were rejected last night, to the delight of hundreds of schoolchildren and their parents.

Elliot Furniss

PLANS to install a controversial mobile phone mast were rejected last night, to the delight of hundreds of schoolchildren and their parents.

Colchester Borough Council's planning committee reached its decision at a meeting at the Town Hall, attended by dozens of concerned staff and pupils from three of the town's schools close to the site of the proposed mast.

Officers had recommended to the committee that the plans, put forward by communications giant O2, be approved.

The 12-metre mast would have been installed in a piece of grassland at the junction of Norman Way and Lexden Road and proposals to disguise it as a telegraph pole had done little to pacify the widespread opposition.

The plans were fiercely opposed by parents and staff at Colchester County High School for Girls, St Benedict's College and St Mary's School.

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Teachers, staff and pupils from each site attended last night's meeting and were relieved and delighted at the verdict.

Teresa Fox, a teacher at Colchester County High School for Girls, said the decision was made on the grounds of the public perception of the dangers involved with phone masts and the “visual clutter” it would cause.

“Everyone who objected will be delighted that this application has been refused,” she said.

About 500 letters were written to the council by people dismayed by the plans, but the planning officer who compiled the report found the blueprints “acceptable” and was satisfied that the mast would fill a hole in the network coverage.

Last month, Tim Stevenson, communications manager for O2, told the EADT: “We have got a lot of customers using our network and we have got to accommodate those customers coming on to the network and we have got to have the capacity in the network to give a signal.

“The signal in that area is not poor at the moment but it will become fairly poor over the coming months if we don't do something.”