Residents plead for phone-mast red light

CONCERNED residents are urging a county planning committee to turn down plans for a mobile phone mast in Stannington.

But councillors would have to go against the advice of planning officers as the bid for the 23m-high telecommunications structure has been recommended for approval.

The proposed mast would be located on an area of land owned by the Highways Agency around 25m to the east of the A1.

Not far away to the north of the site is the vacant former service station which had been earmarked for a new hotel and conference centre until the recession delayed the project.

Objections have been received from local residents and councillors, who believe that the equipment will hamper future development in the area, provide a negative visual impact, is too close to housing and more appropriate sites are available in the locality.

The North Area Planning Committee will determine the application by Telefonica O2 this evening, with officers saying it is an acceptable form of development in a suitable location.

Stannington Station Residents Association Chairman Karen Carins, who will represent people living in Station Road at the meeting, said: “The mast will be visible by 9.20m above the existing treeline and would impact Stannington Station by deterring any other developer from using the site.

“It is very close to a restaurant and houses, which will impact on their visual amenity.

“The notice to quit concerning the current mast in Stannington (Lough House), which is referred to often in the planning support statements, has not been issued according to the estate manager of the landowner.

“He understands that negotiations are still in play and would prefer the present site of the mast to remain as it is.”

She added there has been no consultation with the local community and although documents were sent to Morpeth Town Council in early April, Stannington Parish Council did not receive any notification of the application until July.

Also, there are eight masts which surround the village area.

The site is in the Ponteland East ward of county councillor Eileen Armstrong and her objection included the point that potential health issues should be taken into consideration.

The structure would provide 2G/3G network coverage for Telefonica O2 across Stannington and surrounding hamlets.

In a report to the committee, officers say: “By virtue of its siting, scale and design, the proposed development would not have any significant or unacceptable impacts on the visual amenity, character and appearance of the site and surrounding area as well as the amenity of residents within the vicinity.

“It is not considered that the proposed mast and ancillary equipment would prevent any potential development of the vacant site to the north.”

A county council ecologist examined the area and said although red squirrels have been recorded 200m from the site and bats are likely to visit, given that the mast is an entirely static structure and no trees are proposed for removal, it is very unlikely that it would have any significant impact on these species.