COUNCILLORS have voted to increase the height of a T-Mobile phone mast in Great Budworth’s Green Belt.
The decision came at a Cheshire West and Chester planning board meeting in Chester after borough planners had visited the village to see the site for themselves.
T-Mobile said it was seeking approval to add a 5m extension to its 15m tower next to Belmont Hall on Warrington Road and replace the six 2G antennas with three 2G and three 3G.
The issue came before the board at the request of Marbury Cllr Malcolm Byram (Con). Parish councillors, who were backed by Cllr Byram, conservationists and neighbours opposed the plans.
Great Budworth Parish Council said it had ‘grave concerns’ about the visual impact of raising the tower above the tree canopy.
The village Amenity Society also felt it would be intrusive.
Neighbours at Garden Cottage, 75m from the installation, said they were ‘seriously concerned’ about increased health risks and pointed out that Cransley School is within 400m.
Planning officers suggested the upgrade was acceptable as the installation is in a heavily-wooded copse. They felt it would be preferable to another mast in the Green Belt.
It would have a lightweight appearance and they described the extension as ‘minor’.
At a previous meeting, board chairman Cllr Ralph Oultram (Con, Weaver) suggested a decision should be deferred to enable a site visit to take place.
Development control manager Mark Lynch said the mature trees at the site would screen the upgrade.
T-Mobile was obliged to provide coverage and the increase at Belmont Hall was necessary. The options were to have a new mast on another site or to increase the height of the existing installation.
The board granted permission on an 8-1 vote.