Croydon Council has refused permission to build a 60-foot tall 5G mast on Fitzroy Gardens in Upper Norwood’s Church Road conservation area, following objections that included that the tower would be a dangerous distraction to car drivers and pedestrians.
The application was made without the engineers for Hutchisons, one of the world’s biggest and most profitable mobile phone operating companies, even bothering to conduct a site visit.
The council’s decision was published just before Christmas, and was reached following objections from Transport for London and the Norwood Society.
The application, on behalf of CK Hutchison Networks, the multi-billion international commercial operators of the 3 mobile phone network, wanted to plonk the massive pole and associated cabinets on the corner of Church Road and Fitzroy Gardens, adjacent to 124 Church Street and opposite the locally listed Queen’s Hotel.
Objectors noted that the tower would “overshadow ominously” the two oldest and unique listed buildings in the conservation area, hunting lodges built in the Great North Wood in 1832 and 1833.
The council planning official’s report states, “The proposed monopole, cabinets and ancillary equipment would cause significant harm to the setting, visual appearance, street scene and character of the Church Road Conservation Area by virtue of their size, design and siting.”
The report highlighted the scheme’s “excessive street clutter”, which it stated would hinder pedestrian movement and limit useable space on the pavement.
The council planners appeared to accept TfL’s objections, too, as they noted that the mast would “adversely impact upon the safe operation of the highway”.
Significantly, the planning official noted, “The applicant has failed to demonstrate that there are no existing buildings, masts or other structures on which the proposed apparatus can be sited.”
The Norwood Society’s objections claimed that the applicant had submitted their request based solely on a desktop study, without a site visit, and that no where in the application “has any reference been made to the proposed site being within a conservation area or close to listed buildings”.
The Society’s objection states: “The applicants have therefore failed in their assessments of locating a suitable site for a 5G mast in the vicinity of Church Road having missed these facts.”
TfL was concerned with maintaining the Strategic Road Network, or SRN, of which the A212 Church Road forms part. “TfL has a duty under the Traffic Management Act 2004 to ensure that any development does not have an adverse impact on the SRN.”
They said, “TfL has concerns that the equipment will reduce the width of the footway.
“The monopole will form an incongruous feature in this location, noting the current height of buildings and trees in this location.
“TfL therefore has concerns that the introduction of an 18-metre high monopole in this location will distract all drivers within this area. As such, the equipment will impose risks to pedestrians and other vulnerable road users, which is contrary to the Mayor’s Vision Zero approach, which seeks to eliminate all fatalities and injuries on London’s transport network.”
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