Decision made on installing 5G mast on 176-year-old church

Plans to install 5G phone antennae on a 176-year-old church have been refused due to fears they would harm the appearance of the listed building.

By Chris Young , Local Democracy Reporting Service
Tuesday, 10th May 2022, 7:15 am

St Mary’s The Virgin in Wyke dates back to the 1840s, and has been described as a local landmark.

There are already antennae on the church spire, but earlier this year Cellnex UK applied for planning permission to upgrade the base station to 5G.

Those plans have now been refused by Bradford Council, with officers saying the technology would “detract from the architectural form” of the church.

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St Mary’s The Virgin in Wyke

They said the application had too much “technical jargon” about phone masts, and not enough consideration of the listed church.

The planning application stated the need for 5G coverage in the area was essential, adding: “The design of the proposed equipment is considered to be the least visually intrusive option available given the level of equipment required for 5G.

“Although it is accepted that there will be very marginally intensification in the amount of equipment it is felt that such a minor increase would not detract from the character of the area with any visual effects being significantly outweighed by the immense benefits of the new 5G connectivity.”

However, Council officers felt differently about the scheme.

Jon Ackroyd, Conservation Officer at the Council, said: “St Mary the Virgin dates from 1846/7 and as such is an early example of a church responding to the Victorian expansion of Bradford and its surrounding settlements.

“It is the work of local architectural partnership Mallinson and Healey.

“The tower is particularly prominent and the building is a local landmark.”

He said the existing antennae are visible, but there has been work to make sure they blend into the spire.

Mr Ackroyd said the plans did not include nearly enough detail to show that they would not harm the appearance of the church.

He added: “If the proposed installations were to project further from the faces of the spire, they would be more prominent both in profile and appearance, and hence would detract from the architectural form of the gablets and the spire as a whole.

“This would result in harm to the listed building.”

Since those comments, amended plans have been submitted.

But planning officers also criticised these plans, saying: “The concern remains that the proposed apparatus will project forward of the faces of the tower, whereas at present it sits within the niches.

“The proposed apparatus should be shown fully, and identified in readily understandable terms and not technical jargon which is unfamiliar to those outside the telecommunications industry.

“Without this, the application should be refused on lack of information and unquantifiable harm.”

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