Residents triumph again in battle to stop huge 5G mast being built in middle of Milton Keynes estate

An internet giant has been refused planning permission to build a towering 5G mast in the middle of a residential estate for the second time.

By Sally Murrer
Thursday, 19th May 2022, 12:21 pm
5G masts are necessary to give people the coverage the want, say broadband providers Three
5G masts are necessary to give people the coverage the want, say broadband providers Three

Last summer residents on Blakelands were up in arms about a planning application to put an 18 metres tall telecommunications mast on Wedgewood Avenue, just metres way from a children’s play area.

Applicants Hutchison 3G, the company behind phone and broadband providers Three, said the estate is a "highly constrained cell search area" and a mast is necessary for people in the area to benefit from the latest 5G technology.

But residents said it would be a blot on the landscape and called for it to be sited somewhere else.

MK Council refused planning permission last year on the grounds that the structure would dominate the area and families thought their battle was over.

However, last month Hutchinsons submitted a fresh planning application for exactly the same site. This time the proposed mast was three metres shorter, which, according to Three, was the "absolute minimum" capable of providing 5G coverage.

A resident said: “We petitioned neighbours and collectively we lobbied the council with emails informing them of our objections, which were wholly valid and justified.

“We managed to get over 150 signatures on a petition and more than 50 objections on the K planning portal. We also got local councillors on board.”

Last week their efforts paid off when MK Council refused the application. Planning officers stated: “The proposed mast, by reason of its siting, height and design (appearance), would dominate an open, green and uninterrupted part of the street scene which currently contributes positively to, and serves as a distinctive part of the character of the area. In this instance the public benefit of providing improved telecommunications infrastructure is not outweighed by the visual harm to the character and appearance of the area.”

But, despite the second victory, residents still fear there will be another application.

"Although the decision has gone in our favour, the company wishing to erect may still appeal. Even if they decide not to, they could be looking for another site,” said one householder.

He claimed: “We have noticed since becoming involved with the siting of these masts that absolutely no consideration is given to residents. In fact, it appears that the process of locating a “suitable” site is generated by a computer to find the optimum site regardless of what impact it will have on communities.

“Although we have won this battle I fear very much that the war continues.”

A Three spokesperson said: “Access to 5G has a vital role to play in boosting local economies, helping residents and businesses get faster and more reliable network coverage. This is why we’re working with the council in MK to roll out the UK’s fastest 5G network so that we can keep everyone connected both now and in the future.

“While we try to keep mast sites as unobtrusive as possible, they do need to be situated near to where people will be using the service and, in many cases, in precise locations to ensure the widest breadth of coverage.”