Council says planned Houston phone mast will be "too close" to people's homes

By Stephanie Brawn

Council chiefs have told a telecoms giant they are concerned about plans for a new 20m high phone mast in a Renfrewshire village.

CK Hutchison Networks - which operates Three in the UK - is looking to build the 5G mast in Houston's Magnus Road as part of expanding its capacity in the area.

But dozens of residents have protested against the move citing a 4G Vodafone mast which is already in place just 70m away from the proposed one.

Campaigners have also argued the Craigends area is densely populated, with the existing mast already regarded as an eyesore.

After being notified about the plans ahead of any formal application, council bosses have now gone back to CK Hutchison Networks saying the mast will be too close to people's homes.

A council spokesman said: “We have received correspondence from a telecoms agent in relation to proposals for a 5G mast on Magnus Road and have responded, highlighting our concerns the mast would be too close to residential homes and forwarding them correspondence from elected members and members of the community in relation to this.

“Once this feedback has been considered the telecoms agent is required to submit an application for prior approval and, if this is refused, we will require submission of a full planning application.

"To date, we have not received an application for prior approval.”

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A large majority of ground-based telecoms masts are considered permitted developments under planning legislation and often do not require full planning permission.

Operators will usually notify the council and the community of their proposals before submitting an application for prior approval, with the planning department reviewing the mast's appearance and location.

If this is deemed unacceptable at this stage, prior approval is rejected and the operator must lodge a full application.

If formal objections are received, the proposals could then be scrutinised by the planning board before a decision is made.

Houston councillor Alison Dowling has already urged planning chiefs to refuse the mast, or at least ask for a full application that would allow consultation with residents.

Three said it is aware of some objections made through a pre-application consultation from its agent Dot Surveying and would be working with the council to find an agreement going forward.

A Three spokesman said: “5G rollout is vital for residents and businesses of Houston. We want to offer the community a reliable network experience and this site will be critical to making that happen.

“Masts needs to be situated where people will be using the service and in precise locations to ensure the widest breadth of coverage.

"We carry out extensive searches and surveys to evaluate all the options. We then choose the option most likely to gain planning approval from the local council. This will include showing we have minimised the impact on residents and the locality.”

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