Published: 06:00, 12 February 2021
A planned 25-metre phone mast has been branded an “ugly skyscraper” as images show it would tower over nearby homes.
Phone companies EE and Three have unveiled new pictures of the towering aerial, which they hope to build at the South East Water compound off Canterbury Road in Herne.
The firms admit the structure will be at least three metres taller than neighbouring trees - but argue it will provide improved 4G coverage to the area.
Despite this, the proposals have sparked a furious backlash from dozens of locals who have expressed fears it will ruin the leafy approach to the village near Herne Bay.
In a letter to Canterbury City Council, resident Dr Phillip Eichorn said: “The proposed tower would cause severe and substantial harm to this village.
“Let’s be clear what’s at stake: the applicant has proposed erecting a monstrosity at the main entry point to a medieval village, which anyone coming from Canterbury will pass under.
“The structure would be over 80 feet (tall) - the height of a seven or eight-storey building, the length of a typical blue whale or a brontosaurus.
“Despite the claims made in the application, it would serve no one’s benefit but their own, and would seriously blight the community.”
The firm that submitted the plans on EE and Three’s behalf, Mobile Broadband Network Limited (MBNL), insists the structure will not be unsightly and that much of it will be shielded by nearby trees.
It also notes that the mast, the application for which was first lodged with the local authority towards the end of 2019, “could accommodate 5G once it becomes available” in the area.
But Herne and Broomfield Parish Council fears the development could result in the felling of trees and would “be totally incongruous with the historic character and setting of the area”.
Clerk Monica Blyth said: “There are issues with air quality in the village and any loss of trees can only add to the problem.
“The top of the mast will be extremely (visible), as shown by the artist’s impression.
“The trees on the site are 16-metre high deciduous trees which will provide no, or minimal, screening to the significant equipment mounted to the head of the mast.”
In papers submitted to the council, MBNL stresses that the height of the structure is the minimum necessary to provide the village with phone coverage.
“This installation allows for an increase in home working, reducing the need to travel for work as a consequence,” the firm added.
“The pole is similar in shape to a tree trunk, and so would not appear an incongruous feature within the existing landscape, thus preserving the openness and character of the area.
“This site has been selected as the most suitable option in terms of meeting technical requirements and minimising visual impact.”
EE and Three want to relocate the mast from its current position on top of St Martin’s Church.
If approved, the 700-year-old building would consequently see its £9,000-a-year contract to house the aerial until 2031 come to an end.
Reverend Carol Smith previously told KentOnline: “We would be unhappy if it were moved because it provides much-needed income to the church.
“When we struggle to pay our bills, it’s a lot of money to be losing.”