RESIDENTS are challenging a proposal to erect a new 5G mast near Saltaire on the grounds it could affect tourism and attractiveness at the UNESCO World Heritage site.

An application to rebuild a 20 metre 5G mast on Bingley Road was sent to Bradford Council on June 12, 2020.

New rulings introduced in 2019 mean that telecommunications companies must submit an application however, if there is another existing mast nearby, no planning permission is needed.

Saltaire World Heritage officer Sheena Campbell said the existing mast is "visible from the World Heritage Site from the top of Victoria Road and Bingley Road" and that this application would fall within the Saltaire World Heritage Site Buffer Zone.

In her letter of objection, Ms Campbell said: "The historic residential housing in the zone contributes to the character of the setting of the Site and softens the relationship between it and the more modern areas along Saltaire Road. Congestion and the poor quality of the public realm are issues for the setting of the World Heritage Site. The extra cabinets proposed create clutter and exacerbate the situation by making the poor quality public realm worse."

The conservation officer has asked for the company to move the mast away from the Saltaire site and submit photos of how the extra five metre height could impact surrounding views.

Councillor Vick Jenkins (Shipley, Labour) has also questioned whether the mast could be moved and perhaps using it as a way to benefit the community. In its place, Cllr Jenkins proposes that a building such as a church could house the mast discreetly for a fee, with funds going back into community work.

Another objector said: "It is visually extremely intrusive and ugly. Alternative sites do not seem to have been considered; church towers or mill chimneys would seem to be a suitable way to at least camouflage such a structure."

Campaigners have also criticised Bradford Council's approach to the mast, expressing that residents feel they do not have enough time to object and that letters sent to locals arrived too late.

Residents living on Bingley Road said they feel “the Council has already made up their minds regarding the mast” and that many people will be “surprised” when it goes up.

They received a letter, dated June 30, regarding the 5G mast application on July 10 - this advised that residents can have their objections heard at an area panel meeting.

The resident was later told by a planning officer that this is not possible as meetings are being held by the Regulatory and Appeals Committee due to Covid-19.

And while the committee last met yesterday, the case could not be added to the agenda as it was too late. The next committee meeting is set to take place on August 20 - the deadline for the decision to be made is August 4.

She feels the mast is going to "tower over" local buildings and will be visible from Salts Mill.

The resident also felt the democratic process had not been followed due to “incorrect information being given to us by the planning officer”.

The deadline for objections is July 23, leaving the resident concerned they have had “barely any time to get a sound objection written”.

A Bradford Council spokesperson said: “The council is always interested in people’s opinions on local issues and we want to hear resident’s views on the proposals for this mast. This is why we sent out letters and have encouraged people to make submissions.

“This application for prior notification was lodged by a telecommunications company and does not require a site notice. However we did post letters to more residents than required by planning regulations to ensure a greater number of people were aware and had the opportunity to comment.

“The council has limited powers in relation to this issue and we can only make rulings on ‘siting’ and ‘appearance’ as the principle is allowed under national permitted development rights. However, we can and will carefully consider all objections when making our decision.

“Government planning regulations mean that developments of this kind can begin if the council has not made a decision by the end of the statutory period which in this case is 4 August."

Anyone who has concerns or views on this application should make submissions via www.bradford.gov.uk/planning. Submissions close July 23, 2020.

MP Philip Davies (Shipley, Conservative) said: “A number of local residents have made me aware of their concerns about this and the process Bradford Council are following. I have taken up these concerns with the Council and await their response.”