A mobile phone company has been given permission to put up a mast in Brighton after the council turned down the proposal.
Planning inspector Lloyd Rodgers upheld an appeal by Telefonica O2 after Brighton and Hove City Council refused permission for the mast last year.
O2 wants to put up the 33ft (10m) mast at the covered Southern Water reservoir in Islingword Road, Brighton, along with associated cabinets housing telecoms equipment.
Some neighbours opposed the proposal. Concerns were raised about the mast’s visibility from properties in Luther Street, Luther Mews, Bentham Road, Cobden Road and Whichelo Place.
People living near the site also expressed concerns about the lack of discussion with residents’ groups and this was noted by the planning inspector.
Mr Rodgers said, however, that the proposed mast was a similar height to mature trees on the site.
He said that the mast would sit between the trees and the reservoir pump house. This would, he said, effectively screen it from public view for most people.
Residents of Beaufort Terrace and people using the reservoir green would be more likely to notice the mast, he said, especially in winter when the trees had less cover.
No material effect
He also said: “The fairly dense vegetation along the security fencing and the existing buildings to the south and south east would effectively screen the cabinets from public view.
“Although it is likely that the cabinets would be glimpsed through the reservoir entrance gate, they would have no material effect on the area’s character or appearance.”
O2 intends to share the mast with rival mobile phone company Vodafone.
Mr Rodgers, who works for the independent Planning Inspectorate, said: “The proposed installation would result in a much improved 3G coverage for both O2 and Vodafone networks.
“I note the concerns of local residents regarding the health implications of the proposal.
“I have found no overriding reason to set aside government advice regarding this issue and I do not consider that the concerns of local residents regarding health matters would justify withholding planning permission for the proposal.
“I accept that this proposal would result in some harm to the character and appearance of the area.
“To my mind this would be outweighed by the need for the installation and the lack of suitable alternative sites.”
The council, he said, had not come up with any alternative sites and the phone company had carried out a proper search. He allowed the appeal.