Concern Grows Over Mobile Phone Masts Plan For Sutton Court Flats

Locals say they would be 'overbearing' and 'alien' on Edwardian rooftop

sutton court mansion block


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Plans by telecoms company CTIL* to install mobile phone masts on the rooftop of the Edwardian Sutton Court mansion block complex, continue to progress through the planning application phase.

Residents and owners of the 146 homes in the complex are encouraging comments on the proposed installation of three masts with six antennae (two on each mast) to be sent to Hounslow Council as soon as possible. The developer has submitted an application to the local planning authority to determine whether prior approval is needed and the LPA has 56 days following validation of the application to issue its decision.

The residents have three main concerns about the scheme which they outlined in a letter sent to the Council's Planning Department.

A spokesman said that they believed the mobile masts would be visually detrimental to the building and would be 'totally inappropriate'.The masts would stand out rather than blend in with the environment, in an overbearing and 'alien' manner.

They believed that the developer should first look at installing the masts in a more industrial environment, rather than a residential complex. The telecoms company should carry out more research for a suitable site.

An impression of how the phone masts might look

The residents are also concerned about the structural feasibility of installing large mobile phone masts on the roof of the building and believe it may not be technically viable.

The phone masts would also have a detrimental visual impact on the local area and environment, not just for Sutton Court residents. The masts would be seen from several neighbouring streets.

Notification that the company intended to install the masts on the roof, was submitted on the 17 December. Many residents were away during Christmas and were shocked to learn that such installation was potentially allowed under permitted development rights.

One resident told "This is a wake-up call to anyone living in a similar block of flats in Chiswick. If it can happen to us it can happen to others in Chiswick."

In December 2017 a new Electronic Communications Code took effect under the Communications Act 2003 to make it easier for network operators to install and maintain apparatus such as phone masts, exchanges and cabinets on public and private land.

It gives liberal powers to the operators to acquire sites, challenge opposition and even claim compensation from local authorities if they have obstructed access to electronic communications apparatus in certain circumstances.

The Code states: "In view of the ever increasing and critical needs of local communities (and the UK economy as a whole) to have access to 21st century communications networks, such as high speed broadband connection or a 4G mobile connection (and 5G in due course), the Code has been reformed under the Digital Economy Act 2017 so as to make it more straightforward for Operators to gain access to the locations they need, to improve coverage, capability and

A site can be anyplace used to install Apparatus, such as under or on top of open land, the rooftop of a building, a tunnel or a lamp-post.

Operators are under increasing pressure to find viable sites for the apparatus and this has already led to clashes between some phone companies, residents and local authorities which have ended up in court with complaints that the phone companies have used 'aggressive' tactics in pursuing their objectives. There have been a number of similar cases in other areas of London including Islington and Muswell Hill.

Last month (December) the telecoms company wrote to Sutton Court Management Ltd attaching a Developer's Notice and site plans for the proposed telecommunications base station development at Sutton Court..

They are required to serve such a notice prior to the submission of a prior approval application.

It is then up to the Local Planning Authority to consider the siting and appearance of the proposed installation. Once the application is validated the LPA has 56 days to make a decision.

*Cornerstone Telecommunications Infrastructure Limited (CTIL) is a British company that operates radio mast infrastructure. The company was formed in 2012 as a joint venture between the mobile phone operators Telefónica (trading as O2 in Britain) and Vodafone.

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January 18, 2020

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