'We don't want this phone mast'
A CONTROVERSIAL phone mast extension will soon tower above a community despite a council rejecting the plans.
Phone giant Telefonica is to install the equipment, including six new antennae, on the roof of Hartshill Business Park, in Shelton New Road.
The technology, which is used by O2 and Vodafone, is separate from the temporary phone mast which has already appeared at the site.
The application, which many residents objected to, was refused by the city council in June.
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But after taking the case to an appeal, the company was granted permission to raise the height of existing equipment last month.
Now families have complained that the new antennae will blight the local skyline while concerns have been raised about potential health effects.
Greg Watts, aged 37, from Shelton New Road, has now decided to rent his house out and move his family elsewhere.
The father-of-three believes the equipment belongs in a field or an industrial estate rather than opposite houses. He said: "We are moving to Blurton because this was just the final straw.
"Since the temporary mast went up at Christmas we have been looking to leave.
"We were worried about the kids' health and we are not happy about how the company has gone about things."
Greg, who works on a farm, and his wife Gemma, aged 30, lived opposite the site for three years but have decided to move on.
He added: "You don't expect a mast of that size to get permission outside your front door.
"It belongs on an industrial estate somewhere but not among houses. It is very close to the Harpfields school and a nursery which I don't think is right."
Barbara Andrew, chairman of the Hartshill and Harpfields Residents' Association, said: "People living locally object to these phone masts being sited incongruously in what is a residential area.
"Not only are the phone masts large and unattractive in themselves, there remain concerns about their safety, especially regarding the possible impact on the health of young children."
Documents presented as part of the company's application state: "This proposal is as a result of Telefonica Ltd having to remove their apparatus from the University Hospital of North Staffordshire."
Councillor Shaun Pender who represents the Penkhull and Stoke ward said: "The council has an initiative and aspiration to make Stoke-on-Trent a great place to live.
"But by blighting neighbourhoods with these kind of initiatives, it does not fit in and I wish the person who had taken the decision had been a bit more considerate.
"It must be incredibly disheartening for residents."
Chris Pointon, the manager of Home-start, next to the site, said: "I really feel for the residents because I wouldn't want that outside my house. There has been no consideration for the community and the impact it will have on people."