‘Eyesore’ 5G mast in St Thomas, Exeter, is rejected after hundreds object to bid

Controversial proposals for an ‘awful’ and ‘inappropriate’ 5G mast near the St Thomas Shopping Centre in Exeter have been rejected after the bid attracted 300 objections. 

City council planning chiefs refused the 15-metre-high telecommunications monopole in Cowick Street despite officers recommending approval, writes Local Democracy Reporter Daniel Clark.

Applicant and mobile network operator Hutchison 3G UK Limited – commonly known as Three – had said there is an ‘acute need’ for such a structure.

But members felt that the scale, design and siting of the proposed mast in the conservation area would be ‘completely unacceptable’.

The application garnered 300 objections out of 312 comments made – but only half of these were from people who live or work in Exeter.

Concerns included safety fears and perceived public health risks.

However, as the scheme was considered as ‘permitted development’, planning committee members could only consider the siting and appearance of the mast.

Councillor Hannah Packham said: “It is out of place and out of keeping in comparison to the buildings and the area.

“It clearly dominates the skyline and looks enormous against the existing trees.

“The precinct is at the heart of the community and loved by the residents, and, quite frankly, the mast is going to be an eyesore in an area in a green space that provides some of the character that we love.”

Proposing refusal, Cllr Rob Hannaford added: “I think the impact is completely unacceptable.

“I really don’t think the huge pole will enhance the area and will undo many years of hard work.

“We should refuse this as it is not appropriate in a conservation area, and due to its height and design.”

Cllr Bob Foale said: “When over 340 residents write to the council, there is a fair chance they have a point to make.

“While the health reasons cannot be a reason for denial, they do represent very real fears that some of the residents have.

“This would dwarf the local shops and provide a blight on the landscape that would be replicated In every other ward in the city.”

Cllr David Harvey added: “A 15m mast in the middle of the Cowick conservation area would be an absolute disgrace.”

City council leader Cllr Phil Bialyk said: “It would be a retrograde step and should not be there. It looks awful and is totally inappropriate.”

Councillors voted by 12 votes to one to reject the application on the grounds that the height, siting, and design was unacceptable to the street scene and character of the conservation area.

A separate application for a 20m mast in Sidmouth Road, by the car park of Toby Carvery opposite St Peter’s Church of England Aided School, was withdrawn from the agenda prior to the meeting and will be considered at a later date.

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