An application submitted by telecommunications giant, Three UK, for erection of a 20-metre high monopole on the pavement outside Morrisons on Queens Road has been rejected by the planning committee of Hastings Borough Council.

PICTURE: Danny P Robinson

The mast was intended to be the central link for the expansion of Three’s 5G telecommunications network across Hastings, enhancing coverage levels and network capacity, specifically within the TN34 area. 

In a statement supporting its planning application, Three explained that, since mobile phone base stations operate on low power, they need to be located in the areas they are required to serve. “Increasingly, people are also using their mobiles in their homes,” it added, “and this means we need to position base stations in, or close to, residential areas.” However, the council received 200 separate objections, many of them very passionate in opposition. There were no statements in support.

Guidelines contained in the National Planning Policy Framework of July 2018 state that planning authorities should not question the need for the service, nor set health safeguards different from the International Commission guidelines for public exposure. 

Instead, the council planners rejected the proposal on grounds of visual impact. Given that the proposed mast would be twice the height of any surrounding buildings, that it would be visible not just in the immediate street but also from distant viewpoints and could not be sympathetically designed and camouflaged, they decided that it would be “overbearing and overly dominant in the immediate street scene, would be detrimental to the visual amenities of the surrounding area, and harmful to the character and appearance of the local area”.

Their decision letter dated 8th October also noted that the applicant had failed to show that an equivalent mast serving the local population could not be sited elsewhere.

Similar applications are being received by planning authorities in the UK, notably in the cities of Brighton and Bristol. Some are being approved, others rejected.

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