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Fury as huge phone mast is erected without planning permission just a few feet from residents' homes
United Kingdom Created: 1 Dec 2020
Furious residents of two streets in Ashton are demanding answers from Bristol City Council after a massive mobile phone mast tower was put up close to their homes without any warning at all.

Engineers began preparing the ground behind the South Bristol Retail Park last Monday (November 23), and a large crane arrived in the middle of the week.

But it wasn’t until Friday (November 27) that the full height of the phone mast was revealed.

It towers over the back gardens of Smyth Road and Gerald Road in Ashton, with many saying their views have suddenly been ruined.

Now, attention has turned to the city council’s planning enforcement team, because the firm that erected the mast did not even submit a planning application, let alone get permission for the structure.

Many residents said they feared the company behind the structure are using new permitted development rights, although it is not yet clear if the Government have now given mobile phone companies the right to put up tall masts without asking for permission from council planners first.

The area’s two local councillors said they were urgently asking questions of the planners to find out what can be done about the mast, which is in the rear service yard of the B&M Bargains store in the retail park.

The mast is bolted to a concrete base, with concrete blocks positioned, but not touching it on either side.

It does not have any other anchors, nor does it have any signs indicating the owner or company responsible for the mast.

One local resident said she asked the workmen erecting the mast who they were and was told they were working for a company called Waldon Communications, erecting the mast on behalf of mobile phone giant EE.

Local residents and Bristol Live have contacted EE for more information.

People living next to the mast said they can’t fathom how it has been allowed to be erected without anyone informing them.

“A neighbour rang me to tell me there was a huge crane and next thing we knew, they were putting great big concrete slabs in and putting them between B&M and the Scout Hut, and there was nothing we could do,” said Ann Hathway, 83, who has lived in Gerald Road for 41 years.

“It’s diabolical. I didn’t realise it was going to be that high.

“It’s been lovely here. But now that’s there - but have they gone the right way about it, and got permission. We haven’t heard a thing about it,” she added.

The mast is right on the corner of the land used by the retail park, so on the inside corner of the back gardens of two streets.

Round the corner in Smyth Road, Hannah Reeve said she was stunned when she saw it at the end of her garden.

“We noticed the crane and things being lifted up the day before,and I was out all day, so I came in the garden yesterday.

"We’re due to have building work, and the builder said: ‘you know that there’, and I looked around and saw it.”

“The builder said ‘that’s devalued your house by 25 per cent’,” she added.

“We knew absolutely nothing. I’ve not been informed, not even any chat on Facebook, absolutely nothing at all.

“I’m worried about the health concerns about it - it is so close to all our houses.

"I wouldn’t do anything like this myself, but you hear that these masts are targeted by people, so that’s the last thing we want for it to topple onto our houses.

“But I’m more cheesed off with the way it’s been done. To not tell anyone at all that you’re putting such a tall thing at the end of so many people’s gardens is shocking,” she added.

“It’s been OK living here - obviously the football ground has grown in the last few years, but we’ve got used to that, but this is something else. Why didn’t they just put it on the stadium roof?” she added.

The streets concerned are just off Winterstoke Road, a couple of roads down from the South Stand of Ashton Gate.

It’s in Bedminster council ward, where local councillor Mark Bradshaw said he has had lots of people contacting him to ask what is going on.

“As councillors, we are normally sent details and plans about masts - relocated, renewed or brand new - for any comments in advance of installation, but that doesn’t seem to have been the case for this one,” he said.

“I can understand why people are annoyed and anxious, and we’re urgently asking Bristol City Council to clarify what is permitted within legislation and whether the processes have been adhered to,” he added.

His fellow Bedminster councillor Celia Phipps said she had many questions to ask the council and the mobile phone company.

“Why was this site chosen?” she said. “What were the options, and why don’t they need planning permission? I know the providers need height, as they have used the tower block in the past,” she added.

The question of whether EE - if it is their mast - didn’t need planning permission is the subject of controversy.

In July, the Government announced it would relax the laws on phone companies requiring planning permission to erect phone masts in a bid to speed up the process to get better phone coverage across the country.

That followed a year-long consultation, in which 80-90 per cent of those who responded said they were against 5G masts for health reasons.
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Source: Bristol Live, Tristan Cork, 30 Nov 2020

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