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Plans for Sandwich mast taller than The Shard set to be rejected by councillors

By Eleanor Perkins

Plans for a communications mast taller than The Shard are recommended to be rejected by councillors at a planning meeting tonight.

The application for the 322m structure at Richborough Power Station was submitted in June last year by Canadian firm Vigilant Global.

Planning officer Andrew Somerville is also advising councillors to turn down a separate application for a slightly smaller 305m tower at Kings End Farm, submitted by rivals New Line Networks (NLN).

The Shard is dubbed Europe's tallest building
The Shard is dubbed Europe's tallest building

Both masts would carry financial information to traders in Europe at superfast speeds.

Mr Somerville’s report says the general height and scale of the masts would be harmful to the Richborough Marshes, Richborough Fort and Sandwich Bay.

The towers would also have an impact on heritage assets such as the Grade I Listed St Peter’s Church in Sandwich.

He said: “The proposed masts would result in materially greater adverse impacts of heritage significance, landscape character and appearance of the area.

“Such proliferation of structures, especially, as each applicant considers their mast is capable of accommodating the other’s equipment, is contrary to... the National Planning Policy Framework (2012) which require that the number of telecommunications masts and the site for such installations be kept to a minimum.”

Vigilant Global has already pledged new phones, better broadband and savings on its communications bill to Sandwich Technology School, plus a new sound system for Sir Roger Manwood’s School, despite planning consent.

This week, it also announced another partnership with Great Oaks Small School in Minster.

The proposed design of Vigilant Global's mast
The proposed design of Vigilant Global's mast

NLN say the benefits of their mast would include improved connectivity to community radio, broadband, mobile phone connections and satellite TV.

David Madden, on behalf of Vigilant Global, said: “We are disappointed by the report’s recommendations, and hope that the planning committee will take into account the many merits associated with the Richborough Mast application when they consider our plans.

“We very much hope that committee members will consider the following key facts about the Richborough Mast application.

“It is the only option that provides the single mast solution called for by the community, local MP and planning policy, and has been designed from the outset to accommodate multiple users.

“At 322 metres, it is the only option that fully meets the technical needs and height requirements of the entire financial sector. In addition, it is the only option that makes a clear and legally enforceable commitment to mast sharing.

“The Richborough Mast would deliver a substantial range of benefits to the area, including a community fund worth at least £2 million over the life of the development, expanded wireless broadband coverage, and additional funding for much needed resources for local community groups.

“For all of these reasons we sincerely hope committee members will resolve to grant permission.”

Sean McNamara from New Line Networks at an exhibition in Sandwich
Sean McNamara from New Line Networks at an exhibition in Sandwich

A spokesman for NLN said: “We look forward to continuing to work with the elected councillors who represent the community on a solution that benefits the people of Dover through the jobs we will create and the funds that will benefit residents through a CIC.

“The KEF mast is in the best location to provide a single-mast solution for all users, and we’ve welcomed third parties to join our mast since submission of our application months ago. As a company with a strong record of collaborative engagement, NLN feels ideally positioned to help the people of Dover accomplish the mandate of a single-mast.”

The planning committee meeting will in the council chamber in Whitfield at 6pm tonight.

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