Backlash over bid to install 'eyesore' 5G mast near Grade I-listed church in West Ham
- Credit: Isabel Infantes
An "eyesore" 5G phone mast could be installed outside one of Newham's oldest buildings.
Telecoms giant Three has applied to Newham Council to check if prior approval is needed to install an 18m mast and cabinets in Church Street, West Ham.
But neighbours have raised concerns the pole will spoil views of Grade I-listed All Saints Church, which has been a centre of Christian worship since 1130.
It is one of four buildings in Newham to be recognised with the highest listing Historic England can grant and is credited as being at the heart of a community which grew into east London.
Helen Crossley, a bell ringer at All Saints, said: "That church has been ringing bells and bringing people together for centuries.
"Sticking an ugly mast there is a disrespectful thing to do, especially as there are thousands of sites where it could go."
A Three spokesperson said: "5G rollout is vital for residents and businesses [in] Stratford.
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"We want to offer the community a reliable network experience and this site will be critical to making that happen."
She added masts need to be situated where people will be using the service and in precise locations to ensure the widest breadth of coverage.
However, Liz Rayner, who lives near All Saints, said: "[All Saints] is at the centre of its community. It's one of the few old, attractive buildings in Newham. [The mast] would be an eyesore."
She raised concerns over the mast's impact on health, but Three maintains the 5G rollout by UK firms complies with all global health and safety standards.
The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) also says as long as its guidelines are followed, 5G exposure “will not cause any harm”.
Anja Schellenbauer is a founding member of the Triangle Action Group which has been trying to improve the neighbourhood.
She said: "[The area] does not need to deteriorate any further. [The mast] would completely obliterate the importance of the church.
"It would put an end to any kind of positive development we have been trying to achieve."
She questioned the use of an image submitted with the bid which shows the proposed mast's location but excluding the church.
Three's spokesperson said it carries out extensive searches and surveys to evaluate all options before choosing sites.
"This will include showing we have minimised the impact on residents and the locality," she added.