Residents furious over ‘nightmare’ plans to erect 22.5m-high mast

A group of residents said they have been “totally failed” by their council, as plans to build a 22.5-metre telecoms mast in the area have been submitted.

The plans, submitted by Cornerstone, a mobile phone infrastructure company, would see the mast installed at the Martin’s Yard site in Drakefell Road, Telegraph Hill.

Lewisham council has been criticised by residents in the area for not giving them enough time to object to the plans.

The applicant submitted plans under the “Prior Approval” framework, which limits any debate to a period of 56 days after the application has been validated.

An illustrated visualisation of what the view from Seymour Gardens would look like if the tower was constructed (Picture: Elsa Gwilliam)

Giuseppe D’Agrosa, a resident of Seymour Gardens, said the application had left him with a “deep sense of anxiety”.

“It felt like the place where we could have hoped to grow our family,” he said. “If not with happiness, with a sense of relative confidence in the future, such was this place welcoming and its rich, diverse community warmly embracing.

“Then came the message – a 22.5-metre mast is going to be built no further than 20 metres from your place.

“This has turned our lives into nightmares from which it will be very difficult to emerge.”

Lewisham council validated the application on the same day as Cornerstone re-submitted it in September this year, but residents said they were given little warning to submit objections – the period to do so ends tomorrow.

After the 56 days, in the absence of any deliberation from the council, the Prior Approval framework considers the application as approved.

Residents are also concerned that under the legislation the planning officer may choose under delegated powers to set aside objections that could be received and the opportunity to deny the application may not reach councillors.

Charles O’Hanlon, also of Seymour Gardens, said: “We expect that our local government will protect our amenity and look after us. We feel totally failed if this goes ahead.”

Another Seymour Gardens resident, Valentina Levcik, said: “The whole situation is awful and very concerning on all levels. I cannot believe that this is happening in this modern democratic world.

“It’s shocking that the same company, but under a different name, have lost their case previously and had to remove the mast from the Forsythia House and now they are trying to install it in close proximity to the original mast.

“We are struggling to get concrete answers from Lewisham council. It is evident process hasn’t been duly addressed.”

A Lewisham council spokesman said: “When the new application was submitted under the prior approval framework, we notified anyone who commented on the original application, as well as other local residents – providing them with the opportunity to submit comments. 369 letters were sent out to homes and business in the area with information about the new application.

“Under national government legislation, applications for telecommunication masts are granted automatically unless the local authority issues a decision within 56 days – we do not have control over this mechanism or these timescales.

“A decision on this application will need to be taken in line with national and local planning policy and will be issued in due course. All comments submitted prior to the issuing of the decision notice will be considered as part of the decision-making process.”

Cornerstone has been approached for comment.

Pictured top: Residents of Seymour Gardens protest against the mast. An illustration of the tower is above them, inset (Picture: Elsa Gwilliam)

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