Green light for replacement telecoms mast at BT exchange despite objections

A proposed new telecommunications structure at a BT exchange outside Belfast has been given planning permission by Antrim and Newtownabbey councillors.

Antrim Civic Centre
Antrim Civic Centre

The borough council’s Planning Committee has approved a proposal for a replacement column that will increase the height of the mast by 10 metres at the Antrim Road facility in Glengormley.

The application is for a replacement column of 27.5 metres in an increase from the original 17.5 metres construction.

Seven letters of objection were received in relation to the application.

A report to the committee which met earlier this week indicated concerns of residents over proximity to properties, “visual amenity” and potential noise and health concerns.

Councillors were advised that design, appearance and impact on the character of the local area were considered by planners as well as impact on “environmental quality of the area and neighbour amenity”.

The report states; “Given that the proposal seeks to replace an existing 17.5 metre telecommunication column with a 27.5-metre-high column, it is considered that the principle of a telecommunication mast on this site has been established and the proposal is acceptable subject to all policy and environmental considerations being met.”

Councillors were informed that “cell capacity at this site is saturated and needs to be upgraded to address 4G capacity and congestion”, according to the applicant’s agent. 5G capability is not included,

Thy were also told that the applicant’s agent has specified that the

existing network “needs to be strengthened and this can only happen by either introducing a new site into the existing network or upgrading an existing site” and the design has been chosen to appear “less visually intrusive”.

Planners have indicated that although the column will be “evident” at Antrim Road, it is considered that the surrounding vegetation and buildings will “absorb the visual impact” and its appearance is considered “acceptable” for this urban area.

The report acknowledges that concerns were raised over the existing mast being in close proximity to homes at Glenwell Mews. However, the report notes that the mast was in place prior to the construction of this development.

In response to claims raised by an objector over potential health concerns, the report states that “no evidence has been presented to suggest human health either has been affected by the existing mast or will be adversely impacted by the proposed mast”.

The application was approved after five councillors voted in favour with three against and one abstention.