Express & Star

Fears 'jarring' 5G mast near Aldridge pub would ruin character of 300-year-old venue

Fears have been raised that a proposed huge phone mast would ruin the character of a historic 300-year old Aldridge pub.

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Cornerstone Telecommunications is looking to erect a 20-metre-high monopole and other equipment around 35 metres from the Old Irish Harp on Chester Road.

The firm said improving 5G coverage in the area would provide a boost for residents and businesses with improved connectivity, while also reassuring people there were no health risks posed by the mast.

But Walsall Council conservation officer Devinder Matharu said the pole would be ‘jarring’ and harmful to both the pub and semi-rural location it sits in.

The Old Irish Harp public house is a Grade II Listed building and it dates back to around 1700 and is surrounded by open countryside.

Mr Matharu said: “The proposed 20m high 5G telecommunications mast would introduce a jarring and top heavy, bulky and visibly distinct mast with a head frame design that includes multiple antennas and dishes that would be seen from long views across the open countryside, from shorter views along Chester Road, from views from the Old Irish Harp.

“The introduction of the substantially taller 20m high 5G telecommunications mast would not only tower above existing street furniture but also tower above existing hedgerows and trees along this section of Chester Road and the Listed building, the Old Irish Harp.

“It would be much more visually prominent in views from the public realm due to its height, column width and more bulky and visibly distinct head frame design with multiple antennas and dishes.

“It would introduce strikingly modern feature that would fail to visually integrate with the semi rural character of the area, the setting of the Old Irish Harp, existing street furniture and street scene due to its considerable height and column width.

“It would appear as a stark, visually incongruous feature within the street scene and within the setting of the Old Irish Harp.

“The position of the 20m high mast close to the roadside would contribute to the visual dominance of the proposal as perceived by passing drivers.

“The proposed cabinets at street level will introduce further visual clutter and would be visually detrimental when viewed from the public realm and within the setting of the Old Irish Harp.”

In their application Cornerstone said: “5G is the next generation of mobile connectivity, providing us with a new level of experience.

“It will offer immense opportunities, given the faster and more reliable connectivity that it will provide. We will experience new technologies that will help us become more efficient and save costs as an individual or business.

“The future for digital connectivity in the UK lies in many of our hands. The telecom operators are constantly developing new technologies to provide better mobile services to the public in rural and urban areas.

“However, landlords play a crucial part in building the network too, allowing mobile infrastructure to be placed on their site. Without infrastructure, providing a mobile network to the public isn’t possible, which would affect all of us as individuals and businesses.

“We need to continue to work together to enable the opportunities that mobile technology brings to all of us.”