Row over 5G telephone mast in an area of Preston goes to appeal

Plans to bring 5G technology to a residential part of Preston have been blocked because a 16-metre mast and its roadside cabinets are felt to be too conspicuous.

Wednesday, 10th February 2021, 3:45 pm

Now a telecoms company has lodged an appeal against the city council's refusal to give permission for the communications pole for the EE and '3' networks in Tanterton Hall Road, Ingol.

Council officers say the mast, which would replace a 14.5-metre one already in place on the grass verge opposite Sheraton Park, would be overly prominent in an area of major open space.

But Mobile Broadband Network Ltd (MBNL) wants an inspector to overturn the decision, saying 5G superfast connectivity is "essential" in the area to support the needs of businesses and residents.

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The existing mast in Tanterton Hall Road which is due to be replaced.

The company says the social and economic benefits would be "significant, particularly when viewed in the context of increasing patterns of working from home during the Covid pandemic."

The MBNL application, on behalf of the two networks, argued that the current monopole offers 2G, 3G and 4G coverage, but is not capable of being converted to take 5G.

To bring 5G to the area of Ingol would require a larger mast and a total of six kerbside cabinets to operate it. A 16-metre pole would be the lowest height possible to deliver 5G in that area.

But in recommending refusal, planning officers said the grass verge site had been the subject of two previous mast applications which had both been turned down as "out of keeping" with the area.

A report to the council said the current pole had been erected "by default" in 2001 because, although the council refused to allow it, the applicant did not receive the notice of refusal until after it had been built.

At that time Preston Council ruled: "The proposal would appear alien and incongruous to the area by reason of the proposed siting adjacent to an area of open space, directly opposite the entrance to the (Ingol) golf club and close to a bend in the road.”

In 2004 another application for an upgraded mast was rejected on similar grounds and subsequently thrown out at appeal.

In relation to the latest proposal, an officer report said: "The planning history of the site clearly finds that a mast in this position should not be supported due to its visual detriment.

"The proposed mast would increase by 1.5m in height, have a bulkier frame and wider wraparound equipment cabinet, making the development more visually prominent within the street scene.

"While it is appreciated that the nature of the 5G masts requires they must be wider in design, the siting of the proposal would result in an incongruous feature within the street scene which would appear out of character and overly prominent.

"The benefits of providing a 5G mast are fully acknowledged by the council. However it is considered that in this case the benefits do not outweigh the severe harm to the visual amenity of the area, given its location within an area of major open space, and it is not considered that every effort has made to reduce the visual impact of the installation."

A decision on the appeal is not expected until April at the earliest.

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