Concerned parents are breathing a sigh of relief after plans to erect an 82ft phone mast next door to a school and a nursery were refused.
The “colossal” Vodafone 4G aerial was proposed to go at the junction of Half Moon Lane and Village Way in Dulwich, a designated ‘safe route’ for hundreds of children to make their way to the surrounding schools every day.
Thanks to nearly 300 objections from residents, schools and councillors, the monopole, which would be taller than five double-decker buses, has been knocked back by Southwark Council’s planning department.
Local authorities are prevented from considering health concerns when deciding on phone mast applications, but the Vodafone application was nevertheless refused because it was out of scale with the surrounding buildings and made the pavement too narrow to ensure pedestrian safety.
Alex Graham, of the Half Moon Lane Action Group, set up in a hurry to object to the mast, said: “We’re delighted that this monstrosity has been rejected, but dismayed that the decision could still be overturned with an appeal over the heads of the council and the community since the refusal seems to rest on a technicality to do with the width of the pavement and not on the widespread fears over health risks.”
Peter Johnson, Chair of Governors for the Judith Kerr School, which would have been overlooked by the 25m mast, formally objected to the proposal – saying the council should take a “precautionary view given the proximity to the proposed mast of a large number of young children for much of the day.”
Mother of two young children, Michelle Fairhust, 38, who lives opposite the site, told the News she would be prepared to move if the plans went ahead. “My children come down here on bikes and scooters along with all the other children. I’m nervous about the health effects if this goes ahead. I’ll move – I’m not taking the chance. I don’t want to take that chance with my children’s’ health,” she said.
Vodafone can appeal the refusal with the Secretary of State within six months of the decision date, though no such appeal has been lodged as yet.
Liberal Democrat councillor for East Dulwich ward, James Barber, used to locate phone masts in his previous job and described the choice of location as “staggeringly incompetent.”
“We would never, ever of dreamt of putting a mast next to a school. I dont’ think they did their homework,” he said.