A 5G mast is being built in the middle of a Lincoln village footpath despite objections from the parish council and residents, after a “cock-up” by North Kesteven District Council saw it rejected too late.
Officers at NKDC refused permission for Three to build an 18m monopole on Warren Lane in Witham St Hughs on June 16, 2021.
However, after seeing the footpath being built on, the parish council received an email from the authority’s development manager which said the decision “was made beyond the extended deadline,” meaning the plans were deemed to have received consent.
The letter went on to confirm the operator was “at liberty” to install the mast, and no further consultation was needed.
“I apologise for our error in failing to issue the decision within the time period and which has resulted in a deemed consent for the proposed development,” said the letter.
In a post on Facebook, the parish council has hit out at the decision, saying it is “illogical to tear up a footpath that serves as a main route to the school, the Co-Op and Market Square”.
The height of the mast will be 2.2 times higher than the nearby streetlights, which the parish council said was “about as sympathetic [to the local area] as a black eye” and is contrary to the Central Lincolnshire Local Plan.
“We would love 5G in the area, but the mast can’t just be slapped anywhere the telecoms company fancies,” said the council’s post.
Residents have also had their say. Mark Robertson called the authority “incompetent”, while Stuart Leeder said it was a “cock-up” by NKDC.
A North Kesteven District Council spokesperson said the authority’s intention was to object to the application due to concerns relating to visual amenity and the impact that the siting of the mast would have on the use of the footpath and cycleway.
“Regrettably, however, our decision to refuse was made beyond the statutory deadline set for this type of application, and we sincerely apologise for this. As a result a deemed consent for the mast exists,” they said.
“We are currently seeking to contact the telecommunications operator to explore the current situation and any options that may exist.”
Three said they consulted with ward councillors, the planning department and schools as part of extensive searches and surveys to find the option most likely to gain approval, but had received no response.
A Three spokesperson said: “5G rollout is vital for residents and businesses of Lincolnshire. We want to offer the community a reliable network experience and this site will be critical to making that happen.
“Masts needs to be situated where people will be using the service and, in precise locations to ensure the widest breadth of coverage.
“This will include showing we have minimised the impact on residents and the locality.
“We have commenced work to build the mast after receiving deemed consent.”