A councillor is calling for improved planning guidelines after neighbours started a second fight against a proposal to put a 5G mobile phone mast array on their roof.
People living in Park Lodge, in Dyke Road, Hove, fought off plans by O2 and Vodafone for masts and dishes on the roof of their home back in 2021.
Now they face a fresh battle after the mobile phone infrastructure business Cornerstone signalled its intention to site 12 masts and four dishes at Park Lodge on behalf of O2 and Vodafone.
Cornerstone said that it also planned to build a compound in the communal garden for equipment cabinets. The compound would measure 7m x 2.5m x 2m high – or about 23ft x 8ft x 6ft 6in.
Neither the building’s freeholder nor residents want the masts on the roof nor part of the garden to be used for cabinets.
But the mobile phone companies can take “unco-operative landowners” to a land tribunal if they refuse.
Conservative councillor Samer Bagaeen, who represents Westdene and Hove Park ward on Brighton and Hove City Council, is raising the matter with the council’s Culture, Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Economic Development Committee.
Councillor Bagaeen is asking the council to prepare new guidance to protect people living in blocks of flats in the same way as at least one other local authority.
He plans to ask the committee: “Westdene and Hove Park leaseholders at Park Lodge have again been subjected to a speculative application by the mobile operators to turn their homes into a giant 5G antenna.
“They feel let down by the council’s lack of technical and planning guidance to support the delivery of digital connectivity infrastructure.
“Would the council, therefore, commission and prepare as a matter of urgency ‘City Plan’ guidance, as the ‘London Plan’ team at the GLA (Greater London Authority) is currently doing, covering all stages of digital connectivity planning applications and provide clarity on locations, expectations and requirements.”
Park Lodge resident Valerie Bundy, who has campaigned against mobile phone masts on top of her home for more than 20 years, led the most recent campaign against the proposed masts.
She is concerned that mobile phone companies can now override opposition from freeholders and residents and instal masts where they wish, using “permitted development rights”.
Miss Bundy said: “People might think surely they can’t move on to private lane but the law is there to allow them to force it through.
“I’m just hoping the law has enough in it. There are sections (of the law) to say people can’t be forced to accept it if they have other plans for the land.”
Having looked at the proposals, she said that Cornerstone had obviously not visited the site because its information was outdated and made no reference to the new orchard.
She said: “They say our garden is overgrown and suitable for herbicide treatment and concreting.
“We know this is untrue and we host visitors to this space, including bats (vintage elms in the park are roosts), badgers and starlings who see this as their home.
“Not restricted to these species, they are notable because they are explicitly protected by law. We have pictorial evidence of the actual animals in danger.
“We have tried to tell Cornerstone this is a bad decision and will be against too many ecological initiatives to list here but they refuse to listen.
“As residents, we try to contribute positively to the environment and ecosystem with solar panels on our roof and a mini orchard of trees dedicated to the late Queen under the Green Canopy initiative.”
Cornerstone said: “Cornerstone understands that our mobile infrastructure can impact communities and lead to concern about proposed developments.
“For this reason, we give great consideration to the location and design of our developments.
“The proposed base station will provide network coverage for local residents and visitors to the area.
“We are aware that some residents have expressed their concern about the environmental impact of our proposed development during our ongoing consultation with the residents.”
The Culture, Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Economic Development Committee is due to meet at Hove Town Hall at 4pm on Thursday 15 June. The meeting is scheduled to be webcast on the council’s website.