Golden Lane estate residents fight plans for phone mast

Mobile firm wants to put antenna and dish on roof, leading to concern over 'constant hum' and proximity to schools and nurseries

Tuesday, 15th January 2019 — By Emily Finch

Golden Lane IMG_3584

Tim Godsmark and Clare Carolin, residents of the Grade II-listed Golden Lane estate in the City

EMBATTLED residents at a historic estate say they feel “under siege” after a telephone company revealed plans to build a mobile phone mast on the roof.

Residents living in the Grade II-listed Golden Lane estate, in the City, have said they will oppose the plans which could see a dozen antennas and four dishes mounted on the roof of Bowater House.

“The masts go against all listed property guidelines,” said Tim Godsmark, chairman of the Golden Lane Residents’ Association.

Mr Godsmark said none of the estate residents received a letter explaining the plans from management consultancy firm GVA who are working on behalf of CTIL, a joint venture between phone giants Vodafone and Telefonica. Instead, residents from the estate, which straddles Islington and the City of London, were told of the plans through their local councillors. The letter highlighted how it was a “pre-planning consultation” and other rooftops including the nearby Peabody House, Cripplegate and Greater Arthur House were unsuitable. The phone-mast plans still need to be passed by planners from the City of London.

“We’re worried about the constant hum from the masts. Why can’t it go on an office building nearby? We feel under siege with everything going on,” said Mr Godsmark.

Islington Council and the City of London passed controversial plans for a 14-storey block and new school for the estate last year despite hundreds of objections.

Resident Clare Carolin, whose son attends the nearby Prior Weston primary school, said she was worried about the negative health effects of the masts. She said: “The proposed site is right next to not just my son’s school, but also Richard Cloudesley, which is for pupils with physical disabilities, as well as being close to two nurseries, and the under-construction site for the City of London Primary Academy Islington. Putting an extremely ugly mobile phone base station right next to schools and nurseries would be inhuman and irresponsible.”

The planned mast  at Bowater House in the Golden Lane Estate

Other residents said they are concerned about their homes plunging in value.

There are currently masts on top of the nine-storey Florin Court in Charterhouse Square but the lease there is being terminated.

Golden Lane estate was designed by renowned architectural firm Chamberlin, Powell and Bon in the early 1950s before they went on to design the Barbican. Around half of the homes are socially rented while the other half are owned by leaseholders.

A City of London spokeswoman reassured residents that the masts require planning permission and listed building consent before they can be installed.

She added: “The City of London Corporation has not received a planning application for the installation of phone masts on the Golden Lane estate.

“The City Corporation would need to be satisfied that any proposed installation would not affect the fabric of the building or day-to-day operation of the estate.”

A spokeswoman for CTIL said it was necessary to put their “base station” close to their customers.

She added: “Vodafone and Telefonica identified that they need to improve the coverage to their customers in the Golden Lane Estate area and proposed a base station at Bowater House. At present we are at an early stage of development at this site. However, we have consulted with the local planning authority, ward councillors, the local MP as well as local schools.”

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