O2 application to erect 17.5m mobile phone mast in the middle of Tooting Common

When someone opposes a planning application, they are often accused of “NIMBYism” – Not In My Back Yard-ism!

But sometimes, opposing a planning application is entirely reasonable. When it comes to choosing the location for a mobile phone mast, we would suggest that right bang smack in the middle of Tooting Common is about the least appropriate place you could pick.

Cornerstone and Telefónica UK Ltd (who own O2) have applied to Wandsworth Council to install a 17.5m monopole inside the fenced depot on Dr Johnson Avenue.

You can see the whole application here: https://planning1.wandsworth.gov.uk/Northgate/PlanningExplorer/Generic/StdDetails.aspx?PT=Planning%20Applications%20On-Line&TYPE=PL/PlanningPK.xml&PARAM0=992225&XSLT=/Northgate/PlanningExplorer/SiteFiles/Skins/Wandsworth/xslt/PL/PLDetails.xslt&FT=Planning%20Application%20Details&PUBLIC=Y&XMLSIDE=&DAURI=PLANNING

You can see all the documents for the application and make a comment on the application here: https://planning.wandsworth.gov.uk/WAM/showCaseFile.do?appType=planning&appNumber=2019/4856

Perhaps one of the more interesting documents is the developer’s photo mock-up of the mast here: https://planning.wandsworth.gov.uk/WAM/doc/Drawing-5237197.pdf?extension=.pdf&id=5237197&contentType=application/pdf

We are opposed to this application for the following reasons:

(1) Tooting Common is a special place where people go to get into nature and relax. As such, building things on the common should be resisted unless absolutely necessary. Allowing this or any other development on the common is a very slippery slope.

(2) There must be somewhere less offensive it could go. When the developers contacted us, we suggested a number of alternative locations, including on top of the Lidl, or FItness First, or Argos on Balham High Road. Their response was a bit confusing:

“This option has been discounted by our Network specialist due to the low nature of the building. In order to provide the required coverage to the target area the telecommunications equipment would need to be taller than the surrounding buildings which would result in clutter protruding the skyline. An installation of this nature would not be supported by the Local Planning Authority.”

If you discount putting the mast on top of Lidl because it would result in clutter protruding the skyline, why don’t you discount putting it in the middle of Tooting Common, where it will also result in clutter protruding the skyline? It didn’t seem to make much sense to us.

(3) We think it looks pretty terrible. It’s a massive metal stick in the middle of a natural area.

In general we are of course in favour of improving the telecommunications network for the benefit our whole community, but this has to be balanced with other considerations, one of which is the protection of spaces which also benefit the whole community, such as Tooting Common.

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