Vital in the 21st century or a blot on the landscape - planners set to refuse 30m-tall telecoms mast at Blakeney. What do you think?
- Credit: © ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHIC
A 30m-tall mast aimed at making sure a notorious 'not spot' area of rural north Norfolk has mobile phone coverage is set for refusal, despite a large number of supporters.
Planning officers for North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) believe the benefits of the mast, on National Trust-owned land in Blakeney, are not outweighed by the harm it would do to an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
In particular, officers believe it would have a significant impact on the setting of grade one-listed St Nicholas' Church, Blakeney, and on the appearance of the Glaven Valley Conservation Area, according to a report to Thursday's NNDC development committee.
Argiva wants to erect the mast, with six antennae, at Friary Farm Caravan Park, on Cley Road.
It would provide coverage by Vodafone, O2, Three and EE.
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The applicants say it would mean the end of 434 'not spots' - areas where there is no mobile phone signal - and would benefit residents, businesses and tourism.
Of nearly 200 comments on the application, 149 are in favour of it, and 47 against.
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The plan falls within the parish of Wiveton where the parish council is strongly against it because of its 'major landscape' impact.
The council also believes alternative, less sensitive, sites have not been fully explored.
But surrounding parish councils - in Blakeney, Cley, Salthouse, Field Dalling and Saxlingham, and Letheringsett and Glandford - are in favour of the scheme.
Supporters cite reasons including increased emergency cover and benefits to small businesses and tourism.
But officers believe the applicant has not proved that all possible alternative locations have been assessed and ruled out.
In particular, officers have identified a site at Joe's Hill, Blakeney, which they feel has not been properly investigated.
The report concludes: 'While the loss of an opportunity to provide coverage is very unfortunate, it is considered that the cumulative effect of these impacts on heritage assets and impacts on the wider landscape are such that, notwithstanding the national importance of the project and public benefits that can be attributed to the mast, in the opinion of officers the benefits of the mast are outweighed by the adverse effects of the proposal relating to landscape and historic asset impacts.'