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East Woodhay Parish councillors slam plans for 15m-high 5G mast in Woolton Hill

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Renewed plans for a 15-metre high 5G mast in Woolton Hill have been strongly criticised by the parish council.

Similar plans for an 18-metre high mast on the corner of Tile Barn Row and Woolton Hill Road were refused earlier this year on the grounds that the site was “within a visually prominent location” within the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

However, applicants Hutchison UK – widely known as Three – have now come back with a smaller mast for the same site, which it describes as the “absolute minimum” for 5G coverage.

The proposed site of the mast in Woolton Hill.
The proposed site of the mast in Woolton Hill.

The mast is three metres shorter than the one recently erected at the corner of Link Road and St John’s Road in Newbury.

Three says the mast is part of its plans to enhance 5G coverage levels and network capacity within Hampshire.

In the planning application, it says: “This equipment is considered unlikely to have any material impact on the local area but significant connectivity improvements which is a material consideration in the judgment of the site’s suitability.

Phone mast on the junction of St John's Road and Link Road.Ref: 33-2921. (50337926)
Phone mast on the junction of St John's Road and Link Road.Ref: 33-2921. (50337926)

“The equipment has been strategically located on the grass verge at Tile Barn Row, therefore there is no impact to pedestrian flow or safety.

“The site benefits from screening provided by the trees adjacent, [and] existing street furniture will enable the equipment to blend into the surrounding street scene.”

The plans, however, have once again been met with a backlash by the local parish council.

In the council’s official response to the plans, it says the mast would “completely destroy the visual amenity which this location affords the local community – whether that mast be 18m or 15m.

“This visual amenity is highly protected and is referenced in the Neighbourhood Plan (Section 14 consultation complete).

“This application is therefore another flagrant attempt to treat this amenity and protection as if they do not exist.”

The council also disputed Three’s claim that the site was screened by trees, arguing the mast would stand in front of the trees and that, in any event, the trees would be shorter than the mast.

It continued: “It should be remembered that 5G signal propagation is very limited and would not cover the whole population of Woolton Hill even if a demonstrable need had been shown.

“This pole will only serve a part of the low density habitation of Woolton Hill, which has no significant business users nor any major road passing within range of the transmitter and thus will be of no benefit to any passing traffic.

“It therefore cannot be claimed that it is necessary to improve the coverage in this area of Hampshire, when its footprint covers so few people.”

The planning application is to determine if planning permission is needed for the mast.

A decision date is unknown.

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