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Mobile network files appeal for replacement mast – town running out of tall buildings

NOTE: This content is old - Published: Friday, Jan 11th, 2019.

An appeal has been launched after plans to install a phone mast in the town centre were rejected.

In August 2018 it was reported that mobile phone network EE has applied for equipment to be installed by Waterworld on Holt Street in the town centre in order to boost both 3G and 4G coverage in the area.

The 20-metre-high phone mast, which would be located on Holt Street near Waterworld Leisure Centre, would replace an existing mast currently located on the roof of Wrexham Police Station, which is set to be demolished and replaced with a Lidl supermarket, shortening the list of options for those seeking tall buildings in town.

At the time it was reported that members of Acton Community Council had raised concerns about the impact on the health of pupils at nearby Alexandra Primary School despite the company insisting it would not cause any issues.

Just two months members in October 2018 the application was refused on the basis of: “The telecommunications pole will have a detrimental impact upon the visual amenity of the area and therefore the proposals are contrary to policies GDP1 and CLF8 of the Wrexham Unitary Development Plan.”

Now an appeal has been lodged on behalf of EE by Harlequin Group Ltd in a bid to overturn the council’s decision; with the appellant stating that Wrexham Council “have not been specific in respect of their reason for refusal as to which particular aspects of the appeal proposal contribute to its detrimental impact on the visual amenity of the area”.

It has been submitted by Carolyn Wilson, the head of town planning with The Harlequin Group, who explains that EE Ltd through the existing lease terms have been served with a Notice to Quit to remove their equipment to make way for the demolition / redevelopment of the Bodhyfryd site.

However it is noted that “given the very high nature of the exiting rooftop base station, it has not been possible to find another rooftop within the target coverage area of an equivalent height to replicate the existing coverage”.

As a result the “current network coverage area was therefore subject of a cell split”, meaning that two base stations are needed in the area to replace the geographical coverage lost from the roof of the police station.

Permission for the a 12-metre mast on one such site on Borras Road was granted by the council last year.

A further several sites were looked at to house the mast, including Crown buildings, Trinity Church, Regent House, Coleg Cambria and Wrexham Telephone Exchange.

The roof of Tŷ Pawb / former Peoples Market car park had been put forward by Wrexham Council as an alternative site because of the visual impact on the surrounding area.

In the original and now adapted business plan for the new facility, it was estimated that siting the mast on top of the building would generate £15,000 income for Tŷ Pawb.

However the appellant states that: “The council are not progressing the legal agreement for this site at present. As this coverage is required to replace existing coverage to be removed from the Wrexham Police Station and to provide communications for the Emergency Services Network.

“Following the design visit, it was also confirmed that the current power room is to be moved which means the site would have no power at the proposed location.”

The document adds: “In respect of the proposal suggested to the council they considered that whilst the proposed monopole was a comparable height to the adjacent leisure centre building as it was a distance from this building it would be viewed in isolation and as a “clearly distinct structure” from most nearby vantage points.

“The monopole will be considerably taller than the existing street furniture and would appear discordant detracting from the appearance of the immediate locality. The council confirmed they would not support the proposal on this basis.

“Whilst the Appellant could now pursue the council’s site via the Code, this is a lengthy process involving the land tribunal and given the need to remove the equipment from the Police HQ in the near future in accordance with the notice served under the terms of the lease by the landlord, replacement coverage is required in the shorter rather than longer term.”

Commenting on the refusal of the Holt Street application, the appellant notes that whilst the “height of the mast is significantly taller than the existing street furniture and in particular the street lighting” – “the separation is such that the mast will not be backdropped sufficiently in all views and as such will appear as a prominent and discordant feature in the streetscene”.

The appeal document continues onto say: “The Appellant considers that the number of vertical structures in the vicinity, the scale and massing of the adjacent building, and height of the nearby trees, together with the modern recreational, commercial and retail nature of the surrounding land use and main transport route infrastructure setting for the appeal proposal, all result in an appropriate visual context.

“The particular siting of the appeal proposal has taken account of all of the above factors in trying to mitigate as far as practicable the visual impact of its design and height which are required for operational reasons.”

It concludes: “The Inspector is respectfully requested to consider the merits of the appeal proposal based on the evidence provided in support of this appeal and to grant planning permission, thereby ensuring the Appellant can continue to provide its customers with the desired level of service in this area.”

A decision on the appeal will be made by a planning inspector at a later date.

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