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Bridge House application could remove need for 100ft mast on Jesus Green in Cambridge



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A planning application has been submitted to install telecoms equipment on Bridge House in Cambridge, potentially removing the need for a proposed 100-foot mast on Jesus Green.

The executive leadership of the council cannot interfere in the planning process, but a senior councillor said they believe the outcome “will be one that we will all be happy with”.

The view from St John\'s Street with superimposed image of the telecoms equipment on Bridge House. Picture: Waldon Telecom
The view from St John\'s Street with superimposed image of the telecoms equipment on Bridge House. Picture: Waldon Telecom

A public backlash started last month after details were published of an emergency notice issued by Mobile Broadband Network Limited to erect a temporary mast taller than King’s College Chapel on Jesus Green.

The company has argued that it needs to find a replacement site for equipment that provides signal for EE and Hutchison 3G and is currently located on the soon-to-be demolished Park Street car park.

Cambridge City Council, which owns the car park and is behind the decision for demolition in order to redevelop the site, has been criticised by nearby residents and opposition councillors opposed to the idea of a temporary mast on Jesus Green.

The council has said it too is against a temporary mast being located in the city centre park, but claims it does not have the authority to block the plans, and that it has contractual obligations associated with the planned timeline for redeveloping the car park.

Despite its stated opposition, the council said on February 10 that it has reached an agreement with the telecoms companies for them install the 100-foot mast on Jesus Green, but only for a year, and with conditions attached, rather than the 18 months which would have be authorised by the emergency powers.

But a planning application for an alternative site, Bridge House, which is next door to the Park Street car park, could remove the need for the temporary mast altogether.

Mobile Broadband Network Limited submitted a planning application for the plans on Bridge House, 13-14 Round Church Street, on February 24.

How the Jesus Green mast would have looked
How the Jesus Green mast would have looked

It follows an earlier attempt by the company last year for authorisation to put the same equipment on the same site, but which was rejected on the basis that it would harm the conservation area protecting the city’s historic centre.

The council’s executive councillor for planning policy and open spaces, Labour’s Katie Thornburrow, told a meeting of the council on Thursday (February 25): “Since the initial emergency application, the applicants have amended their plan for a permanent new site, and they submitted it yesterday. It is now registered.

“We hope to deal with it within eight weeks, and if approved they will be able to install equipment before dismantling the Park Street car park antennas, in which case there will be no need for a mast on Jesus Green.

“I believe that the outcome of the process will be one that we will all be happy with.”

The leader of the council, Labour councillor Lewis Herbert, said: “Obviously I can’t determine the outcome of it, but I do think there is a good case for a mast in that location, unlike on Jesus Green.”

He said the council “cannot tell ward councillors or residents that there will be a planning application granted” but said the council is working with the applicant to achieve the relocation onto Bridge House.

“We are working closely with EE, who admit that they have made errors. It will save them money, as well as save them public face if they don’t pursue this emergency power,” he said.

The council plans to begin demolishing the Park Street car park in the autumn, and said it has reached an agreement with the telecoms companies so that, if the temporary mast on Jesus Green is needed, it can only be in place from June 27 for 12 months.


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