A notice has appeared on a tree by the Buckle Bypass in West Seaford indicating that a planning application has been made by Vodafone & Telefonica (O2) for the installation of a new telecoms mast with 3 antenna and two cabinets.
The application document reference number is LW/16/0185.
Welcome Enhancement or Blot on the Landscape?
The residential areas surrounding the Buckle Bypass are notorious for poor mobile connectivity, so many locals may welcome any improvement to their mobile signal.
Others may see this as a blot on the landscape. It is thought that the new mobile communications mast will be prominently visible on the ridge forms that part of the horizon for many in the Princess Drive area.
The proposed height is 12.5 metres (41 feet), so it will tower above local trees & bushes.
The blue cross above indicates roughly where the mast will be situated. More detail can be seen on the Documents tab of the online planning application. [N.B. The View Associated Documents link did not work for me in Internet Explorer but did open in Firefox.]
The Previous Application Was Rejected
This is not the first time a telecoms company has applied to install a mast in this area. Orange made a similar application in 2003 under reference LW/03/0203, which was rejected primarily on the basis that:
- It would be a striking feature – in English, an eyesore – because of its height and hilltop position.
- It would “dominate the immediate locality and erode its pleasant residential character”, contrary to government guidance.
Lack of Transparency?
The location of the planning notice, circled in red on the image above, is surprising. It is tied to a tree and cannot be read from the nearby pathway. To see the content of the notice, you need to climb a bank that some may consider to be steep.
It seems unlikely that anyone who is disabled or wheelchair-bound would be able to reach a location where they could read it, raising a question as to whether Lewes District Council has fully complied with disability legislation or accessibility requirements.
The period in which you can submit concerns is also very limited, as representations need to be received by the council by Thursday 21 April.
Taking the above factors into account, you could almost think that the council is hoping nobody would notice the planning application until it was too late.
It certainly falls short of the openness and transparency you would expect in a modern democracy.
Submitting Your Opinion / Finding Out More
If you need more information or wish to provide feedback either supporting or raising concerns about this proposal, you can:
- Contact Miss Amanda Collison on 01273 484439 / 484440.
- Phone 01323 897426 to arrange a viewing of the planning application at the Planning Services Offices, Southover House, Southover Road, Lewes.
- View the application online by clicking here. This online document contains a map of the proposed installation site.
It should be noted that the website has recently been unavailable outside of the regular maintenance window (midnight – 4.30am), which is unhelpful for those who work during the day may only have time to access the site in the evenings.
Update: The date for feedback on the application has since been changed to 28.04.16 and further notices have now been placed prominently on lampposts.