Scores of people have objected to a proposal to put up a 5G phone mast just days after the plans were made public.
More than 160 people wrote to Brighton and Hove City Council over the weekend to oppose the plans.
The objections were sent to the council after concerned neighbours mounted an extensive awareness campaign on social media.
A planning application to put up the mast was submitted to the council by the mobile telephone infrastructure company Cornerstone and its part owner Vodafone.
They want a 20-metre (65ft) high mast to go on the corner of Ditchling Road and Upper Hollingdean Road, with six antennas plus two equipment cabinets and an electrical meter cabinet.
Many of the objectors were concerned that the mast is so close to Downs Infant School and Downs Junior School as well as on the edge of the Preston Park Conservation Area.
One person, whose details have been redacted on the council’s website said: “I strongly object to this mast due to its proximity to two schools attended by approximately 800 children between the ages of 4 and 11.
“The mast will be an eyesore and it will overshadow the playground and will be entirely out of step with the listed building status of Downs Junior School. This is a completely inappropriate site for such a mast.”
Another objector, whose details were also redacted, also raised conservation and said: “I object to the proximity to the tram shelter, which is recognised as a historic building. Downs Junior School and its walls are listed too.
“The proposed tower will also overshadow two schools and there are safeguarding issues.”
The installation of 5G masts has proved controversial among some although council and health chiefs have said that they are safe.
Brighton and Hove is home to Britain’s first non-university 5G testbed, based in New England House.
The council is working in partnership with businesses to create a three-mile ring of fibre-optic cable linking university and college buildings, the Jubilee Library and the 5G testbed to create the Brighton Research and Innovation Fibre Ring. Spending on the project is currently paused because of the coronavirus crisis.
Last October, plans for three 5G masts near Hove Park, in Arundel Street, Brighton, and on the corner of Roedean Road and Marine Drive, Brighton, were refused because they would have increased “visual clutter”.
Campaigners also submitted a petition with 2,240 signatures opposing 5G to Brighton and Hove City Council last year. It was discussed by the council’s Health and Wellbeing Board in January.
Brighton and Hove’s director of public health Alistair Hill said at the time that peer-reviewed research had considered both the long and short-term effects of 5G technology and concluded that there were “no adverse health effects”.
He said: “We recognise there is ongoing research and keep ourselves up to date within public health in Brighton and Hove. We absolutely recognise there is concern among some of our residents about this.”
Max Woodford, the council’s assistant director for development and regeneration, told the board that the council could not stop the spread of 5G from a planning perspective “even if it wanted to”.
He said that the council could object to specific sites based on design and location – for example, those close to a “heritage asset” or on a listed building – but otherwise it could not use planning policy to oppose 5G.
If officials believe that the Ditchling Road proposal should be granted planning permission, it is likely to be decided by the Planning Committee because of the opposition that it has attracted.
There were suggestions on social media that the plans would not receive proper scrutiny from the committee because social distancing restrictions had restricted membership to three councillors. But all 10 members have been able to meet using online video conferencing after a change in the rules.
The public notice was published last Monday (20 April) and anyone wishing to comment has until Monday 11 May.
For more details, go to the council’s website and search for planning application BH2020/00980.
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