A 25-METRE high phone mast which would have towered above trees has been rejected by councillors.

EE had lodged an application with Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council to erect the mast on land adjacent to Folly Cottages in Ashe Warren.

The network provider said it would remove a blackspot in phone signal for train passengers.

It also told planning officers that the mast would be hidden by large trees, but this was argued by a nearby resident.

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Douglas Paine spoke to members of the council’s development control committee on Wednesday last week.

He said: “The proposed mast would cause serious and lasting damage to the area of outstanding natural beauty. It is not sympathetically designed or camouflaged. It would not be sympathetic to the character and visual quality of the area. It does not respect or enhance the landscape but would be seriously detrimental to it.

“The applicant claims that the mast would be screened by dense tree cover and large mature trees, that is just wrong.”

Mr Paine said that for much of the year the trees do not have leaves on, so would not hide the mast.

He added that the structure would be a “massive eyesore in this beautiful rural area”.

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The committee was told that the network provider would be able to construct a 20-metre phone mast under permitted development rights.

Ward councillor Colin Phillimore said: “As I understand that this development has not been requested by emergency services or for greater rural residential coverage, but just by the rail company to increase coverage for train line users, which begs the question, don’t they have land available for a more appropriate site?”

Committee member Cllr Kate Tuck argued that the masts are “visually hideous” and will not be needed as technology develops.

Cllr Ken Rhatigan added: “I genuinely can’t see the need for this to go through at the current time at the height that it is.”

Members rejected the scheme, with one abstention.

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