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College phone mast consultation extended
United Kingdom Created: 24 Aug 2010
PROTESTERS objecting to the erection of a 17,5-metre mobile phone mast at Godalming College have succeeded in extending the public consultation period.

Residents living next to the college were originally given 14 days to respond to a proposal to install the mast in the corner of the front entrance car park close to a row of neighbouring properties.

It will be less than 10ft from the end of Michael Payne’s garden, who complained this week that the college was being “very obnoxious” in not agreeing to host a ‘flagpole’ mast further away from residential properties on its roof.

Tuesley Lane residents were formally notified of the proposal by 02 in a letter containing photographs of what the mast would look like, and told they had 14 days to respond.

The deadline was originally Wednesday (August 18), but responding to objections by residents that the short notice was an attempt to “railroad it through” at a time when most people are away, the consultation was extended to September 1.

A formal letter announcing the extension will now be circulated to residents.

In its original communication, 02 informed local people that the college was not willing to entertain hosting a replica flagpole mast on its roof and the “slim line” column in its car park was the only option it would approve.

The college has hosted an 02 mast on its roof for the past 20 years but when the lease came to an end earlier this year it said it did not want to renew the arrangement for the existing aerial, which it described as “unsightly”.

02 community liaison officer James Stevenson confirmed the college was keen to relocate the mast, which is needed to provide full mobile phone coverage in the area.

“The college wanted us off the roof and would not allow us to go anywhere else on the roof, the only place we could relocate our base station to was the car park,” he said.

"Nothing settled"

Mr Payne said he did not understand why the college could not be more accommodating and agree to have a flagpole version on the roof to replace the existing aerial.

“I’ll have a very large mast at the end of my garden with two cabinets right up against my fence that will make the same noise as a washing machine on a spin cycle day and night,” he said.

“There will be a lot of objections to this public consultation. Parents with children at the college might not be very happy about it being in the car park as well.

“There will be a lot more objections if 02 puts in a planning application for it to be there after the consultation.”

South West Surrey MP Jeremy Hunt has been backing objectors and has raised their concerns with 02.

“I am delighted that O2 have been reasonable enough to extend the consultation period." he said.

"The original 14 days was simply not good enough and the timing left little opportunity for residents to speak on this emotive issue.

“I hope that O2 will take on board the results of the consultation and seriously consider the positioning of this mast.”

Responding on behalf of Godalming College this week, principal David Adelman indicated there could still be room for manoeuvre on the mast’s position.

“All I would say at this stage is that nothing is settled or agreed between the college and 02 in terms of the location of a replacement aerial, or for that matter whether the college is prepared to host any kind of aerial on its site,” he said.
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Source: Get Surrey, Beatrice Phillpotts, 20 Aug 2010

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