Phone mast protesters mobilise around village green in Mitcham

By Harrison Galliven, Local Democracy Reporter

Residents living around a small village green in Mitcham are united in their opposition to the placement of an EE phone mast which they believe would ‘cast a shadow’ over the protected land.

Cranmer Green is a small patch of grass set aside from the Mitcham Green Cricket Green Conservation Area. The protected land also sits in front of a row of 18th-century cottages and Cranmer Farm Close, a small cul-de-sac.

Late last year, residents of Cranmer Farm Close received a notification from Merton council and telecom company EE regarding plans to erect a 20m mast and six street cabinets on the green – although not everyone received the notice, they say.

Helen Carter, who owns one of the cottages around the green, has helped lead the charge against the plans. She said: “[The applicant on behalf of EE] Waldon sent notifications to some of the people in Cranmer Farm Close, and one of the farm cottages. Then we became aware that we hadn’t all been notified.

“At that point, we all wrote objections, and we thought it would go no further because so many people had objected. We were really surprised when it then proceeded to a full planning application early in the new year.

“As nearly all of us from Cranmer Cottages and Cranmer Farm Close had objected, we thought we would be notified if it went to full application, but we weren’t.”

The residents say they don’t object to the idea of better connectivity, but believe Waldon and Merton council have not tried hard enough to find other sites that would have a lesser conservational impact.

The residents believe the new mast would be installed to replace a similar mast being decommissioned on the Willow Lane Industrial Estate Picture: MCGCH

Ms Carter said: “A lot of people work from home and would benefit from better WiFi, but everyone recognises that that site is a village green and it’s the wrong place for an installation.

“One older resident said he felt the council had picked that place deliberately because they think the people in those flats don’t have much fight in them.”

Tony Burton, chairman of the Mitcham Cricket Green Community and Heritage Group (MCGCH), said there were a number of other sites in the local area that would be more suitable for such a mast.

He said: “The telecoms company has submitted no details to the council to demonstrate they considered other sites before putting in for permissions to put it on the village green.

“Shockingly there is information released to a resident through a freedom of information request that indicates the whole structure will be a ‘fenced compound’.”

Jordan Neary, who lives in one of the cottages just off Cranmer Green, said: “I think the council has gone about it in a cloak and dagger way. Basically, residents don’t want a 20-metre telecommunications system being slapped bang in the middle of the village green.

“You have runners and dog walkers on the green. It’s near the main green, where they do events in the summer. Sometimes they put a big screen up for things like football or Wimbledon. It’s also 100ft from the church, where people get married. It will be an eyesore. It will have a negative impact on the community.”

Residents held a small coffee morning on the green last Sunday morning to drum up opposition to the plans and it has snowballed. The deadline for objections to the application is February 21.

A council spokesman said: “The council has received a planning application for a mobile phone mast near Cranmer Farm Close, but there have been no negotiations with mast operators on this site.

“This application will be considered following our standard procedures. We are aware of the conservation area status and open space designations in the area, which will be an important factor in evaluating the submission and reaching our conclusions.”

Waldon has been approached for comment.

Pictured top: Cranmer Green residents meet for a lunchtime protest (Picture: Helen Carter)

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