Planners turn down 5G mast to save tree in Brighton

The corner of Loder Road and Balfour Road in Brighton

Plans for a 5G mast and cabinets were turned down for a patch of green space in Brighton because they would have been too close to a tree and too unsightly.

More than 205 people signed a petition and 186 people sent letters objecting to the proposed mast and cabinets at the corner of Loder Road and Balfour Road, in Brighton.

Brighton and Hove City Council rejected the plans submitted by CK Hutchison Networks to upgrade the Three mobile phone network in the area.

The proposal included a 60ft (18m) six antennas, a “wraparound” cabinet base, two equipment cabinets and an electrical cabinet.

The council said that excavations and pruning would result in the loss of the tree which would be “to the detriment of local biodiversity and visual amenity”.

The planning decision also said: “The height of the mast would lead to it being highly visible, presenting as an incongruous and utilitarian addition to the landscape, and the cabinetry would appear as unwelcome visual clutter, an unsympathetic intensification of development on this relatively open green corner.

“The proposed mast would be sited in close proximity with the fenced garden on the northeast side of 59 and 61 Balfour Road, where it would appear as a looming, dominant erection.

“This would reduce the desirability of this area as a private amenity space, having a detrimental impact on the amenities of residents. The development is therefore considered to be unacceptable in terms of appearance.”

Some objectors raised issues about health concerns while others want to save the small green space.

The Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, Caroline Lucas, objected to the application citing transport officials’ concerns about the cabinets blocking visibility and the arboriculturist’s fears for the tree.

She said: “Given the views of transport officers and the (council) arboriculturist, coupled with the concerns my constituents have about the impact the mast installation would have on this valued small green space, it does feel appropriate for the applicant to seek an alternative location in a less sensitive site.”

The three Green councillors who represent Withdean ward – Steve Davis, Jamie Lloyd and Sarah Nield – also objected to the application.

They said: “To allow such an overbearing development here would unacceptably reduce the desirability of the use of this space and so cause harm to the amenities of existing and future residents.

“This green space is small and would be dominated and dwarfed by the proposed installation of this mast and cabinets which would not only ruin its character but would take up an unacceptable amount of its grassed area.”

Eight people sent letters supporting the application, welcoming the prospect of improved mobile phone signals.

Three has the right to appeal against the decision.

  1. Jen Murray Reply

    I don’t live in the street, but thank goodness for that. What a cheek these tech giants have, wanting to impose their ugly installations near to people’s homes. A slight improvement in reception for people who use Three would be no consolation at all.

  2. Mark Rigby Reply

    I concur with Jen’s comments and, having lived in Balfour Road for 40 years, near to the ‘green’, I’ve watched the tree grow from a youngster to what residents see today — a stunning example of its type. The devastation wrought by Dutch Elm disease on the City’s trees will, I’m sorry to say, continue, and not only that, but Ash trees are in danger of succumbing to a disease that we are unable to counter. I hope our Balfour Road maple will survive for many years to come, and indeed, what better legacy could we leave for other generations who live beyond us, than to see more trees planted on our streets — not masts. Whatever financial amount is offered by ‘3’, will never be the worth losing our tree.

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