A planned phone mast near to one of Bournville’s conservation areas is to be built as planned, despite being rejected by city planners earlier this year. Vodafone have successfully appealed the decision meaning that the mast can now be built.
Local MP Steve McCabe has written to local residents telling them of the decision saying he understood that those who protested agains the mast initially would be disappointed.
The mast is to be on the corner of Heath road and Hawthorne road which is close to a conservation area. The decision was overturned for a number of reasons. The following are extracts from the Planning Inspectorate’s decision letter:
- The Council has however expressed concern about some closer views and I accept that, although from many angles the monopole would be seen against a backdrop of trees, that would not be the case from all vantage points. However, I do not agree that it would appear either isolated or unduly prominent. Its colour would blend with the existing trees and with the street lighting and although taller than the lighting columns it would nevertheless appear as a similar vertical structure which would not appear incongruous in the street scene.
- I consider that in accordance with paragraph 8.55A of the Birmingham Unitary Development Plan 2005 (UDP), the equipment has been designed to minimise its impact on visual amenity and in accordance with paragraph 8.55B takes maximum advantage of screening opportunities.
- Given the proposed location of them [the cabinets on the pavement] against the railings and beech hedgerow that defines the boundary of Rowheath Park, and taking into account their size and the fact that they would also be coloured green, I consider that they would not appear prominent or incongruous in the street scene.
- Taking all of these matters into account I do not agree with the Council that the proposal would be contrary to UDP paragraphs 8.55 and 8.55 A-C or to advice in the Council’s adopted Supplementary Planning Document “the Location of Telecommunications Equipment” (the SPD) relating to siting and appearance.
- Although I note that a number of local residents state that the existing mobile phone coverage in the area is good, the appellant has provided coverage plots that show a demonstrable need for the development to remedy deficiencies in 3G network coverage.
- I note the large number of objections to this proposal which have been submitted by local residents and also by the Member of Parliament for Birmingham, Selly Oak. [...] Although I note the various representations which have been made about the effect of the proposal on conservation areas, including the Bournville Tenants Conservation Area which is about 230m away from the appeal proposal, given the distance of the appeal site from the conservation areas I consider that the character and appearance of them would not be affected.
- Representations have also been made about the proximity of the Rowheath Pavilion which I am informed provides daily activities for pre-school children and after school dance and drama classes for school age children. However, Rowheath Pavilion is about 120m from the appeal proposal which would not be visible from it and I agree with the Council that the facility differs from a school or day nursery in that the length of time spent at the premises would generally be less given the nature of the activities taking place. The appeal site is also more than 200m from local schools and I do not accept that it is in a sensitive location.
- It has also been suggested that the appeal proposal would reduce visibility at the junction of Heath Road and Hawthorne Road, provide a distraction for drivers and contravene guidance in the development plan regarding the installation of lighting columns. However, no highway safety concerns have been raised by the Council. [...] there is no evidence that drivers would be distracted and that no increase in the risk of accidents at the junction is expected.
- A number of local residents have raised concerns about health risks arising from the development [...] There is nothing to indicate in this case that there would be an actual risk to health or any objective evidence to support any fears of local residents with regard to health risks and accordingly any such fears do not weigh significantly against this proposal.
- It has also been suggested that the proposal would result in an increase in vandalism and anti-social behaviour and would devalue properties. However, no evidence has been provided with regard to the former, and any impact development may have on property values is not a material planning consideration.
The full decision letter allowing the appeal is available here (PDF)