Officials have rejected a planning application to put up a 5G phone mast close to a school in Brighton.
The decision was reached after hundreds of people objected to phone firm Vodafone’s plan for a pole 20 metres (65ft) high.
Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas criticised the company for not carrying out any public consultation before applying for planning permission.
The application was sent to Brighton and Hove City Council three days after the country went into lockdown in response to the coronavirus.
The Green MP said: “When local decisions are made … consideration should be given to what meaningful community consultation has taken place.”
A council report said that the proposed mast – on the corner of Ditchling Road and Upper Hollingdean Road – would be “disproportionately tall”.
It said: “The proposal is considered to cause some considerable harm to the visual amenity of the local street scene which is the setting for multiple heritage assets.
“The mast would cause harm to the historical significance of the grade II listed Downs Junior School, the Preston Park conservation area and a locally listed tram shelter.
“It would also dominate the dwelling house Hollingside and appear overbearing to residents therein.
“The mast in particular would have a poor relationship with the character of the street scene and although the benefits of a 5G network are acknowledged, it is not considered that they would outweigh the harm that has been identified in this instance.
“The placement of the mast and associated cabinet is also considered to contribute to a cluttered appearance on the footpath, with a high potential to impede pedestrian movement and increased safety risk in what is reportedly an area that sees a high level of footfall.”
A similar application in Carden Avenue, Brighton, close to one end of Dale Drive, was approved by the council’s Planning Committee on Wednesday 6 May.
Companies are putting up more and more 5G masts in readiness for the next – fifth – generation of mobile phone technology but the new poles are bigger and wider than existing masts.
They have proved controversial among some – and not just because of their size. Opponents have quizzed councillors and health chiefs locally but appeared reluctant to accept reassurances about their safety.
The technology is at the heart of a £1.6 million project in the heart of Brighton, with 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 the 5G testbed with university and college buildings, the Jubilee Library and local firms.
Spending on the project – the Brighton Research and Innovation Fibre Ring – is currently on hold though because of the coronavirus crisis.
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