Residents call for re-think over phone mast plans at leisure centre in Stowmarket

Mid Suffolk Leisure Centre in Stowmarket


PICTURE: Mecha Morton
Mid Suffolk Leisure Centre in Stowmarket PICTURE: Mecha Morton
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Residents are calling for a re-think over plans for a new 17.5 metre tall telephone mast in Stowmarket.

It follows a meeting called by Jo Churchill MP at which residents, Mid Suffolk District Councillors, Stowmarket Town Councillors and representatives from telecommunications company, 02 and network operators CTIL, were present to discuss the plans for a mast at Mid Suffolk Leisure Centre, in Gainsborough Road.

Planning permission for the mast was granted by Mid Suffolk District Council in January, with prior approval, in line with the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework, which includes guidelines for the future development of the country’s telecommunications network.

Residents say the meeting on March 27, however, was the first time ‘they have been listened to’, despite letters of objection, a 400 signature petition and a facebook campaign.

“The meeting was positive and we left feeling optimistic,” said Denise Askew, who lives on the nearby Chilton estate.

“We only heard about the mast after letters were distributed in November and feelings grew to a state of high anxiety due to the fact that we didn’t think, and still don’t think, we needed another mast.

“It would be an eyesore, is only 80 metres from a residential area and close to both Wood Ley Primary and Stowmarket High School.

“We would still like more information and a re-think.”

Stowmarket Town Council had also lodged objections.

“Stowmarket residents were incredulous at the decision, feeling that their voices, and concerns including those of the Town Council were not heard,” said Stowmarket Mayor, Town and Mid Suffolk District Cllr Barry Humphreys.

Jo Churchill MP said the meeting showed the need to ‘look again at the process in which local decisions, including the need to deliver improved connectivity, are taken’.

Arthur Charvonia, chief executive of Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils, said he looked forward to telecommunications bosses providing further information regarding ‘their plans and their reasoning’ for the mast location to local residents.

A spokesperson for CTIL, which manages networks on behalf of 02 and Vodafone, said: “As part of our commitment to listening to local communities we met with the local MP and residents to discuss the processes around the development of this site.

“We look forward to providing further information in the near future.”