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Council 'held up to ridicule' by mast application

A COUNCILLOR has claimed Solihull’s planning department has been “held up to ridicule” after a telecoms mast, erected under emergency powers, was granted planning permission.

A COUNCILLOR has claimed Solihull’s planning department has been “held up to ridicule” after a telecoms mast, erected under emergency powers, was granted planning permission.

The 28metre high EE mast was relocated from the demolished Westminster House to the heart of Shirley’s Parkgate scheme last June under the Government’s emergency measures for telecommunications provision.

The powers allow masts to be erected for six months without the need of planning permission or prior consultation to ensure 2 and 3G phone signal is maintained.

But last week’s planning committee heard not only had the applicant known about the demolition of Westminster House long before June, they had only submitted an application to Solihull Council six days before the emergency provision expired.

Coun John Windmill (Lib Dem, Olton) said: “You will recognise that this was granted under emergency powers, without consultation, without notification to ward members. It suddenly appeared like the monstrosity it is. On December 19 just before the expiring date, the application was submitted, making it impossible for it to be heard before it expired.

“And surprise, surprise, that application was not correct. It took them over a month to correct it.

“I think they have held this council up to ridicule. Not only the planning committee but, as agents of the developers, they are holding the whole council up to ridicule. I think it’s appalling.”

Coun Robert Hulland admitted the mast, a temporary tower supported on weighted blocks housed within 2.4m high Herras security fencing on the Parkgate construction site, was “an eyesore”.

But he was concerned that, if refused, the applicants would appeal costing the council money and by which time, a permanent site would be available in Parkgate.

“It’s fair to say that we are not extremely happy about the way this has been done,” added Coun David Bell, chairman of the committee.

 

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