People who live in Steep are objecting to plans to increase the height of a local mobile phone mast.

The site operator Cellnex wants to make the tower eight metres taller, prompting dismay from local residents and people who enjoy walking in the area.

The structure is alongside the A3 and a public footpath at Collyers Ridge in Steep. The land is owned by Mark Glyde who rents out space to the operator. It’s also a public right of way.

Stephen Martin reports:

Land owner

Speaking to Shine Radio, Mr Glyde says the proposed additional height of the structure would change the skyline as seen from his home and others nearby.

He points out that the current installation is around the same height of surrounding trees, but the proposed extended section would stick out as a “blot on the landscape”.

He says he has contacted the operator and has been told that the company is free to propose whatever development it sees fit within the restrictions of the planning system.

Miles around

Steep resident Danielle Burton is also worried.

Danielle lives at Collyers Ridge and says the new mast extension would be visible for miles around. She believes it could potentially affect many people’s enjoyment of the area.

Rambling

Richard Kenchington of the Ramblers Association says the proposals do not address how the development would affect Footpath 713 which runs adjacent to the site.

He wants the planning authority to insist that the footpath is taken into account in any decision.

Benefits

The planned development will improve mobile phone coverage for local people and users of the A3 and help take advantage of new technologies, according to the planning application.

Users of the EE and Three networks are connected by services provided by the installation.

What the site operator says

In a statement to Shine Radio, Cellnex highlights the established nature of the site.

The company says it’s better to develop the existing infrastructure than introduce an additional site which would be the alternative technical solution.

The mast has been in operation for several years, consistently providing important mobile connectivity to the local communities within the National Park.  Demands on the mobile networks have increased significantly and particularly as technology has also advanced.

To ensure that these local communities continue to receive good quality mobile connectivity, Cellnex UK has to enable its customers to increase the reach and capacity of their mobile services which requires an increase in the height of the mast.

Although the existing mast is located within the National Park, the alteration of the existing mast is preferred by planning policy, rather than seeking a whole new installation elsewhere in the park area.

This established site, close to the A3, is well located and the extension has been designed to minimise additional impact, so far is practicable, on the special landscape qualities of the National Park and the Council Landscape Officer has raised no objection to the scheme.

In terms of concern regarding the Public Right of Way, Cellnex can confirm that the access to the site will remain as existing approaching the site to the south which avoids the Right of Way to the north. 

Cellnex realises that some members of the community may consider an extension to the mast to be unattractive but believe that the vast majority would be recognise the benefits of improved mobile connectivity through enhancement of mobile services from the mast site.

However, it will be for the local planning authority to consider all these matters in their determination of the application.

Cellnex UK

What happens next?

Planners at East Hampshire District Council are responsible for proposing a decision on this case under powers delegated by the South Downs National Park Authority.

The National Park Authority has the final say, subject to any appeal.

The mast could become 8m taller