A COUNCIL ‘error’ has resulted in plans to install a 20-metre high phone mast next to a secondary school at risk of going ahead despite being refused.

As previously reported, an application was submitted by Hutchinson 3G to Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council asking for permission to install the mast next to The Vyne School, at the corner of Vyne Road and Queen Mary Avenue, in South View.

Dozens of residents objected to the plans, which were refused this week by the council because the mast would “cause an adverse impact on the character and visual amenity of the area”.

However, Norden borough councillor Carolyn Wooldridge, claims the council made a “serious error” missing the deadline for making a decision by one day, meaning it has been given consent by default.

She said the council made the decision too late, on day 57, when applications such as these need to be determined within 56 days.

“If they aren’t made within this timescale, they are given consent by default,” she explained. “The applicant has pointed this out to the planning team and has made it clear that they intend to go ahead and erect the mast despite clear local opposition to this.”

The Labour councillor told the Gazette: “There is a risk of it going ahead. The planning team has apologised to the community they aren’t trying to get away from the fact a mistake has been made. But it doesn’t change that the Norden community will now be left with this.”

She said the council has learnt from the mistake and changed its processes as a result to prevent it happening again but added that the community has been left feeling “frustrated and disappointed”.

She added: “Lots of people came to me with objections to this application, there was an awful lot of local objection not just because it’s near a school and the long term health impacts are still unknown, but it’s on the edge of our conservation area.”

The mast would be on Hampshire County Council owned land. Cllr Wooldridge said the borough council is now looking into preventing the mast from being built.

The installation, the height of which would be at least double that of an average two storey house, would include six antennas and two transmission dishes, along with four equipment cabinets.

The refusal decision made by the council said: “Alternative sites have not been suitably considered and the less than substantial harm is not outweighed by any benefits of the proposal.”

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s executive director of residents’ services Rebecca Emmett said: “As part of the planning process, the council has 56 days to determine permitted development notifications.

“We have received a notification for prior approval for a proposed phone mast between Vyne Road and Queen Mary Avenue and after considering the notification and a number of concerns raised by local residents, the council was due to refuse this application.

“Due to an administrative error, the notification was determined after the 56-day period. As a result of this, the council’s objection to the plans does not stand and the applicant has deemed consent to install the mast. 

“As this land is owned by Hampshire County Council, as highway land, we are working closely with them to understand if there are any further measures that can be taken to prevent this development.

“We would like to apologise to residents affected by this error and reassure them that we have changed our internal processes to prevent this happening again.”