The future's not Orange for Suburb residents
Plans for a new mobile phone mast on millionaire row on the edge of Hampstead Heath have met with opposition from all sectors of the community. The mast, which will stand eight to 10 metres tall, is the third application Orange have made in the last fiv
Plans for a new mobile phone mast on 'millionaire row' on the edge of Hampstead Heath have met with opposition from all sectors of the community.
The mast, which will stand eight to 10 metres tall, is the third application Orange have made in the last five years at the same spot.
PHA Communications, who are working on behalf of Orange, claim the site on the corner of Bishop's Avenue and Lyttelton Road is a blackspot for phone reception. But residents claim there are no signal issues and are fearful for their children's safety because of radiation.
"People around here don't want to take the risk that they're harming their children through the radiation," said Nicole Gerber, a member of the Hampstead Garden Suburb Residents' Association.
"We've been fighting them for the past four or five years. This is Orange's third application for this corner.
"It's not proven to be safe to live under them. In the past few years we've had 600 to 800 signatures against mast applications.
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"It's not appropriate for the Suburb. They're ugly.
"There's enough street clutter in Hampstead Garden Suburb already, and this will be ripe for graffiti."
So far PHA Communications have sent letters to councillors expressing their wish to install the mast, before making a formal application to the Barnet's planning department.
"This is a blackspot area. Orange customers wouldn't be able to make calls as easily," said director Martin Harris.
"More calls would be lost because of poor coverage. A planning application will be going in.
"I contacted councillors for a pre-application consultation. I know it's a particularly difficult area to get permission for - we know there is chance it won't be granted."
The site is just outside the Suburb so there is no jurisdiction for the Hampstead Garden Suburb Trust. When contacted, Barnet council said no application had been received yet and residents would have to be consulted in due course.
Hampstead Garden Suburb councillor Andrew Harper, who is a member of the area planning committee that will assess the application, said: "I can't comment too much on the matter but I wouldn't be at all surprised to find that residents are very unhappy about it.
"Generally speaking, mobile phone masts have been refused on environmental grounds - they've been deemed unsuitable for the area. I'm sure residents will make their views known."
Neighbours roundly condemned the idea, saying a mobile phone mast would be an "ugly health hazard."
Munther El-akabi, 25, of Aylmer Road, said: "Orange reception is fine around here. They say that a mast has psychological effects on children and could also affect electrical objects.
"No-one has told us about the plans. A beautiful tree has already been cut down on this road to make way for electricity cables. We don't want a mast as well."
An Orange spokesperson said the mast will provide necessary coverage and is "essential" for service users.
She said: "We have tried to be as sympathetic to the surrounding environment by designing the site to fit in with existing street furniture and the local council will determine its suitability when the application is submitted.