Concerns have been raised after plans to build a 20-metre-high phone mast in front of a Wrexham leisure centre were entered.
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.
It 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.
However, members of Acton Community Council have 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.
Meanwhile, Wrexham Council has suggested the roof of Tŷ Pawb as an alternative site because of the visual impact on the surrounding area.
In a letter to the company, planning officer Matthew Phillips said: “The need to replace the mast on the rooftop of the Wrexham Police Station prior to demolition of that building in order to maintain coverage in the locality is recognised and I note that alternative sites have been considered and discounted.
“Of the locations considered, in my opinion the most preferable would be a sensitively designed installation on the People’s Market as this would have far less impact on the visual amenity of the area than free standing structures.
“The mast will be very prominent within the street scene being considerably taller than existing street furniture.
“I would therefore not be prepared to support a formal application for the proposals in their current form.”
In response, EE revealed it had been trying to reach an agreement with the authority to use the former People’s Market building for the last two years, but negotiations had come to a halt.
They said the proposed site was also needed in order to provide coverage for emergency services in the area.
The council has already approved a 12-metre mast on Borras Road with two structures needed to replace and improve existing coverage.
The new plans also include three antennas, three cabinets and two transmission dishes.
In a statement written on their behalf, EE said: “The installation has been proposed at this location in order to maintain and enhance the network coverage which will be required for the area once the existing cell site is decommissioned.
“Taking into consideration the loss of height from the existing 47m rooftop site and the surrounding clutter in this area, a height of 20 metres is required to meet operational efficiency needs.
“This site is required to provide coverage for all the blue light services in this area.
“In consideration of the People’s Market car park site, EE have been trying to reach an agreement for two years to use this site for siting their replacement equipment.
“However, following repeated attempts to reach agreement on terms, negotiations have halted and more recent attempts to contact the council to restart negotiations have been ignored.”
Tŷ Pawb’s Fourth Street business plan had the revenue for the mast down as a £15,000 income line, and perhaps gives a hint to the failure to negotiate a deal with a several thousand pound expectation gap.
EE added that they believe the mast would not contribute to pollution in the area.
The plans will be considered by the council at a future date.
By Liam Randall – BBC Local Democracy Reporter (more here on the LDR scheme) / Wrexham.com