Tenant blasts plans for Ashworth Mansions mobile phone masts

Vanessa Shrimpton, Keith Williams, Rose Barretto and Cllr Geoff Barraclough outside Ashworth Mansion

Vanessa Shrimpton, Keith Williams, Rose Barretto and Cllr Geoff Barraclough outside Ashworth Mansions, where mobile phone masts are set to be built. Picture: Shanei Stephenson-Harris - Credit: Archant

An architect living in a Maida Vale housing block has slammed proposals to build phone masts on its roof.

Keith Williams said the plans by Waldon Telecom on behalf of Telefonica and Vodaphone could turn the Victorian-era Ashworth Mansions into an eyesore. If approved by Westminster City Council, they could see six new masts, as well as four dishes erected on the roof.

The block, in Ashworth Road, is in the Maida Vale Conservation Area, and Mr Williams believes this will be a test case that could end up with similar proposals across north-west London.

He said: "People are always complaining about mobile phone coverage but people don't want to look at these masts. You can't have one without the other and we all accept that.

"The wider issue is that it is a challenge to the protection of a conservation area. But if they get this, it will give them a free hand to put it wherever they want."

He said the architectural merit of the building added to the reasons why the plans should not go ahead, saying it has "fine detailing."

Keith, who has lived with his wife in the block for 20 years, said: "It's an architectural treasure and they want to stick up a cluster of steel masts with little appeal. We're amazed that they are pushing ahead with this while pushing back from us."

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There have been more than 60 objections so far by residents. One person said Waldon Telecom has shown "complete contempt" for the views of residents.

Keith added: "It will be an eyesore. If this one is permitted they will think they can do it anywhere, on other mansion blocks in St John's Wood, Little Venice or anywhere else.

"Clearly we need to upgrade the infrastructure but there are ways to do it. Just plonking it on historic blocks is not the way to go about it."

Maida Vale councillor Geoff Barraclough, who lives in the block, said: "This proposal is a hideous design and a slippery slope to defacing historic buildings throughout London with ugly radio masts. We do badly need better mobile coverage in Maida Vale and Vodafone needs to come back with a better plan."

Comments on the plan can be made on the Westminster City Council website, using the reference 19/07493/FULL.