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Bankside residents ‘unaware’ of London Bridge phone mast appeal

Planning permission for a mobile phone antenna at London Bridge was obtained 'by a flawed application', claims a spokesman for a new residents' campaign group.

Nick Grenside and family
Nick Grenside, pictured with his family, indicates the proposed location of the mobile phone mast

Nick Grenside, organiser of the Borough Market Borders campaign group, says that there has been little consultation over the mast due to be placed on Bridge House at the junction of Borough High Street and Montague Close.

An application for the antenna was rejected by Southwark Council officers last year. However, Telefónica O2 has successfully appealed against this decision.

Mr Grenside, who lives in Cathedral Square, is objecting to the mast on health grounds. With the proposed location of the mast being so close to the bedrooms of his infants he believes that an environmental impact assessment should have been included in the original planning application.

In a letter to the Planning Inspectorate Mr Grenside wrote that the stated need for a mast was in London Bridge Station "and not in a conservation area, on a listed building, 500 metres from London Bridge Station and 50 metres from a residential building containing several infants".

He claims to have established that only four of 48 consultees on the council mailing list received a letter. The one addressed to Mr Grenside's home dated 25 March 2010 was not seen by him until 14 April, three days before the deadline for replies.

In April this year Mr Grenside received a letter from Southwark Council dated 27 October 2010 notifying him of the appeal by the phone company with any representations to be submitted by 25 November 2010. He complains that this arrived five months too late.

The Planning Inspectorate's response to Mr Grenside's complaint is that he should first contact Southwark's planning department before considering reporting the matter to the Local Government Ombudsman.

Mr Grenside has subsequently written to Southwark Council asking for the application to be independently reviewed and resubmitted.

He also suggests that in future communications could be hand delivered and where possible sent by email.

"A determined applicant need only make sure that no consultation letter reaches the consultees to ensure planning is secured by default," he says in his letter.

"Alternatively, it would appear that if Royal Mail happens to lose the best part of 40 letters, twice, planning will also be secured by default."

A copy of Mr Grenside's letter is being sent to Simon Hughes MP who has been in talks with Royal Mail about Mandela Way delivery office and the numerous complaints concerning lost or misdelivered letters in SE1.

Southwark's planning department maintains that it went beyond Planning Inspectorate requirements by notifying by post all originally contacted nearby properties that an appeal had been lodged.

A Telefónica O2 spokesperson, commenting on the Bridge House mast, said: "The World Health Organization and most scientists agree that there is no conclusive evidence to suggest a link between mobile phones or masts and ill health."

Southwark Council's reason for refusing permission in June 2010 was on the grounds that it was contrary to planning policy.

The planning authority said that the equipment "due to its size, design, prominence and its rooftop location would be unduly conspicuous" and not preserve or enhance the character and appearance of listed Bridge House, the adjoining Southwark Cathedral or the Borough High Street conservation area.

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