Controversial mobile phone mast blocked by Blackpool planners

Campaigners have won  their fight to prevent a mobile phone mast being put up in a conservation area.

By Shelagh Parkinson
Wednesday, 15th September 2021, 2:36 pm
Updated Wednesday, 15th September 2021, 2:38 pm

Blackpool Council planners have refused permission for an 18 metre tall pole with equipment cabinets at its base on Whitegate Drive, near to its junction with Leeds Road.

Twenty residents, four councillors and Blackpool South MP Scott Benton had objected to the proposal from CK Hutchison, trading as Three UK, to place the equipment in the Raikes Hall Conservation Area.

Dave Blacker, chairman of the Talbot ward PACT (police and community together) which also supported the campaign, branded it “street furniture from hell”.

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Protesters at the site on Whitegate Drive

He welcomed the planning decision, and said: “We are grateful to all who have supported our campaign to find a new and hopefully more suitable place for the mast to be placed.

“This has never been about preventing the improvement of phone communications in Blackpool, we all want to receive better signals from our phones, but not at any cost.”

Planners said while they accepted there was a need for additional mobile phone masts in order to boost 5G connectivity, a balance had to be achieved to protect the heritage of the town.

They also said alternative locations for the mast outside the conservation area should be considered.

A report setting out the decision said: “On balance, the installation of the equipment in the proposed location would have a significantly detrimental impact on the character of the street scene and the value of the area

as a heritage asset, and it is not considered that alternative nearby locations have been explored to a satisfactory extent.”

The council’s built heritage manager also objected to the application, saying “the height and appearance cannot be disguised and would introduce an unwelcome modern intrusion into the street scene, which would harm its historic character.”

On submitting its application, Three UK said it tried to keep “mast sites as unobtrusive as possible” but they needed “to be situated near to where people will be using the service”.

Council planners have also refused an application for a 20 metre high mast adjacent to Layton Library on Talbot Road.

In recent months there have been around 25 applications from different companies to install phone masts around Blackpool as part of a national drive to boost advanced 5G mobile phone and internet coverage.

Masts do not always need full planning permission as applicants may only need to seek ‘telecommunications prior approval’. This means the application is covered by national policy because it is deemed to be part of vital infrastructure.

Three UK has the right to appeal the council’s decision.

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