Phone masts could be installed on city council buildings to protect communities from being blighted.

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Norwich City Council is considering ending its 13-year stance against masts being placed on their property, with further details expected to emerge in the autumn.

The authority says it owns many tall buildings, which offer the potential for masts to be placed in less noticeable positions – rather than near schools, shops and roads.

The potential change emerged as people and businesses in Bowers Avenue, Mile Cross, celebrated plans to install a mast in the area being thrown out.

Applicant Vodafone failed in its appeal to overturn the city council’s decision to reject the 13.8-metre column, plus other communications equipment.

The Planning Inspectorate ruled despite there being an apparent need for the mast to improve 3G coverage in the area, and a lack of alternatives, the proposed pole would be “unduly intrusive”.

Richard Edwards, Mile Cross Norfolk county councillor, said: “I’m very happy that this decision has gone in favour of the residents of Mile Cross. They and I have worked hard on this issue because a phone mast here would have had a terrible visual impact. It would have been very bad for the shops in the area and for the residents of Bowers Avenue and Lefroy Road.

“Phone masts shouldn’t be put near residential areas and places where people spend a lot of time.”

Ralph Gayton, Labour city councillor for Mile Cross, also welcomed the decision and said alternative sites were suggested, which would not have attracted the same level of objection. But Vodafone said there were no other suitable, available sites that could provide the coverage to the target area.

Inspector Nigel Burrows also noted the council’s potential change to allow masts on its buildings. This condition was put in place in 1999 and confirmed again in September 2002.

Are you fighting a community campaign? Call Evening News reporter Richard Wheeler on 01603 772474 or email richard.wheeler@archant.co.uk

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