Neighbours fighting 5G mast on top of Hove block of flats

Neighbours are fighting plans to install a 5G mobile phone mast on the roof of their building and cabinets in the garden.

Friday, 26th March 2021, 4:04 pm

Mobile phone companies EE and Three have submitted a joint application for six masts on Coombe Lea, a 1960s block in Grand Avenue, within The Avenues Conservation Area in Hove.

Telecommunication company Waldon, which is managing the application for the two companies, sent out 84 letters in January to residents.

Five of them raised concerns before the planning application was submitted to Brighton and Hove City Council in March.

Since then, 28 people have written to object to the plans and two have sent letters of support.

A resident, Serena Mitchell, set up a Twitter account @Stop5gHove, with videos sharing opponents’ concerns.

Ms Mitchell said: “I was horrified to receive a letter in early January from Waldon, a Surrey-based engineering company acting on behalf of Three and EE, telling me they were submitting a planning application to instal six large mobile phone masts and a network base station on our roof.

“There are over 150 people living and working in this block 24 hours a day, including elders and families with young children.

“The majority of us are really worried that this unsolicited proposal will damage our ageing block, devalue our property and cause both noise and environmental pollution.”

She said that she was concerned about the impact on the conservation area as the modern block was close to a number of listed buildings. The equipment cabinets would be in the block of flats’ garden.

Ms Mitchell added: “Our home is visible from all the surrounding streets and seafront, with many listed and heritage buildings.

“These ugly masts will totally overshadow our neighbourhood and the listed Hove war memorial, which is right on our doorstep.”

Labour councillor Gary Wilkinson, who represents Central Hove ward, has spoken with neighbours and is concerned about the effect on the conservation area.

Councillor Wilkinson said: “It seems totally inappropriate to place a highly visible mast station on the roof of an ageing residential block slap bang in the middle of a conservation area.

“I am concerned that the mobile phone companies have not considered other options for network expansion, such as siting their masts on the roofs of commercial buildings.”

Comments on the council’s website include concerns about the effect on nesting birds on the roof and whether the 1960s building is designed for such heavy equipment.

One commenter, whose details were redacted on the council website, described the proposals as “overkill”, saying that there were masts on the new Waterfront building on the former Texaco garage site.

In the application, EE and Three included documents explaining how 5G technology was part of the country’s “telecoms future” and how it would benefit council.

Brighton and Hove has a “5G testbed” and is in the process of creating a three-mile ring of fibre-optic cables linking the universities, college buildings and public library.

EE and Three also said that the next generation of smartphones was a “small part” of wider mobile connectivity.

It said: “The next generation of mobile telephony is 5G and it brings a revolutionary approach to managing spectrum and greatly increasing data speeds.

“The advantages this presents range from near-instant downloads of HD films to connected cars, smart medical devices and smart cities.”

The application can be inspected – and comments left – on the council’s website by searching for BH2021/00799.