A telecommunications company has been given the go ahead to build a mast on Framfield Recreation Ground even though residents have fought against the proposal.
Campaigners say trees on the recreation ground were planted in remembrance of the Fallen and survivors of World War 1 and 2 and that building a mast there will desecrate the memorial.
But prior approval from Wealden District Council was not required for the plan because the mast will not exceed 15 metres in height.
A decision notice published by the council on Friday (October 14) says the prior approval procedure means the principle of development is not an issue. The local planning authority can only consider the siting and appearance of the proposal.
Not visually prominent
The notice says: “Factors concerning siting may involve height of the site in relation to surrounding land, topography of the site and vegetation, openness and visibility of the site, designated areas, the site in relation to existing masts, structures or buildings or proximity to residential property.”
The council concludes the proposed site is not visually prominent in the wider landscape and would not be dominant in views from the conservation area or village.
Its decision notice says health implications of the proposal area dealt with by virtue of a certificate accompanying the planning application which certifies that the operation of the mast would fall within public safety limits from the radio wave signals.
The notice says special regard has been given to the conservation area in appraisals and while it is acknowledged the mast would be dominant in the recreation ground this impact had to be weighed against the wider benefits of the application to provide a high quality communications network, a valued objective both within the Government and Wealden Council.
The council concludes: “These platforms demonstrate the Government is aspiring to improve connectivity and coverage in the UK as part of its drive for sustainable and economic development.
“The issue of poor communication in rural areas has been identified as an impediment to businesses, and a drawback to communities in these rural areas.
“The proposal would provide essential communications equipment that will serve the needs of the village of Framfield and its surrounds.
“The applicants have worked with the parish council to provide a site that will provide public benefit and minimise the visual effects of the proposal from the core areas of the village.
“It is considered that the proposed site and design are acceptable and prior approval is not required.”
Campaigners against the mast are upset that their own parish council agreed to allow it to be sited on the recreation ground while accepting £40,000 for a 25-year lease.
One of them, Sam Weddell, met with Wealden MP Nus Ghani on Friday, to find out how to complain about the conduct of the parish council. The MP advised villagers contact Cllr Bob Standley leader of Wealden Council in the hope he would look into the situation.
She said parishioners’ views and concerns had been constantly ignored by the parish council. They had not been consulted, merely told what was happening and now the council was refusing to engage in communications with parishioners.
A statement was sent out by the parish council on Friday saying: “It is clear that a small group remain opposed to the installation of the mast. However, following due process of consultation the council has resolved to proceed with the lease of a small piece of the Framfield Recreation Ground for a mobile phone mast.”
The statement said this was subject to planning consent being granted in the usual manner and no further statement would be made and neither the clerk nor councillors would enter into correspondence on the matter.
Read more about the opposition to the mast here: