Steve expresses dismay at outcome of phone mast appeal

The Government’s Planning Inspectorate has given the go-ahead to an 11.8 metre high telecommunications mast on the junction of Hawthorne Road and Heath Road in the heart of Bournville; despite massive public opposition.


Steve said: “There needs to be a clearer and easier way of taking into account the voices of local residents.” He will now ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to review this approach to planning disputes for items like phone masts.


Steve contacted Birmingham City Council’s Director of Planning and Regeneration in January 2012 to outline his objections to the application and request an extension to the consultation period; as many residents had not been given adequate time to comment.


In Steve’s representations to Birmingham City Council, he outlined his opposition to the proposal on the grounds of its proximity to Rowheath Pavilion, local schools and the Bournville Village Conservation Area. Steve also wrote to residents living in the area to inform them of this development and encourage them to sign his petition; which he later submitted to the City Council. Over 700 residents contacted Steve's office to register their opposition.


In February, Birmingham City Council refused permission for the development. The refusal by the City Council to grant planning permission came as a similar application, submitted by Vodafone and O2 in September 2010, requested permission to build a telecommunications mast on the junction of Heath Road and Selly Oak Road, half a mile away. Birmingham City Council refused permission two months later.


In March, Vodafone and O2 submitted an appeal to the Department for Communities and Local Government; requesting that the Planning Inspectorate overrule the City Council’s decision to refuse. Steve contacted the Planning Inspectorate in April to outline his objections and note the huge number of residents who had voiced their opposition to this development.


Steve also contacted Birmingham City Council and the Planning Inspectorate to request information on the cost of the application and appeals process. This application alone cost the taxpayer just under £1,400; not including the costs the City Council incurred defending the decision to refuse.


Steve said:


“I took no joy in writing to local residents last month to inform them of the Planning Inspectorate’s decision to approve this planning application. Despite the City Council’s refusal, residents are having this unsightly telecommunications mast forced upon them by an unelected body.   


“This whole episode is a sad indictment of the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Planning Inspectorate; who have failed to listen to a majority of local residents who were opposed to the construction of a telecommunications installation in the heart of Bournville.


“The Government say they are committed localists, eager to devolve power to communities; yet where is the evidence in this case? Perhaps local opposition to a development should weigh more heavily on the mind of the Planning Inspectorate”.

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