‘An absolute eyesore’: Outrage after massive 5G tower erected in upmarket conservation area

Them 60ft pole has been described as an “absolute eyesore” by residents of Royal Leamington Spa

Alice Murphy
Friday 09 September 2022 10:15 BST
Husband and wife Ray and Sheila Lillie, live yards from the mast which now towers above their home
Husband and wife Ray and Sheila Lillie, live yards from the mast which now towers above their home (Joseph Walshe / SWNS)

Furious residents of an upmarket town have blasted a massive 5G tower that “looks like it came from a sci-fi movie” after it was erected outside their homes inside a conservation area.

The 60ft pole - operated by CK Hutchison Networks (UK) Ltd - was installed in Royal Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, despite being rejected by two councils last year.

It has been described as an “absolute eyesore” by residents of the historic town, known for its Regency architecture, wide boulevards and award-winning parks.

The mast was erected just yards away from the ancient ‘Midland Oak’ tree, which for centuries has marked the exact centre point of England.

But despite major opposition, the whopping mast appeared without warning overnight on Monday (5/9).

Husband and wife Ray and Sheila Lillie, live yards from the mast which now towers above their home.

Ray, 66, a retired psychiatric nurse, said: “We were appalled by the visual impact of it. We couldn’t believe our eyes.

“We weren’t made aware of it going up.

(Joseph Walshe / SWNS)

“We’d seen some concrete bases and some wooden boxes, and we thought they may be new traffic lights, but we were completely unaware of what it was going to turn out to be.

“The least they could do is paint it green to blend in with the trees.

“It would have been nice for location residents to know it was going there and we then we could have had some input into its proximity and visual appearance.”

Sheila, 60, a retired carer, added: “There are four boxes and a tower – it’s overkill.

“The colour doesn’t need to be that dark against the trees and it doesn’t need to be so close to the Midland Oak.

“The Midland Oak is a tree with a big plaque on which reputedly marks the middle of England.

“This is quite an important area, and the tree is protected. To put a 5G mast opposite is an insult.

“It looks like something from a sci-fi movie.”

(Joseph Walshe / SWNS)

Resident Jim Levack, 58, who lives inside the conservation area, said: “There are double standards about planning decisions.

“If I want to put a UPVC window at the rear of my house it’ll be a flat no, but this absolute eyesore is apparently fine.

“Presumably we can all just do what we like now when it comes to planning.

“Councillors are voted in to represent us and they’ve tried to block this only to be overruled by a faceless, unelected inspector who will never set foot in this town.

“It’s planning by stealth so no matter what local people have to say, their views are irrelevant if they go against Government policy.”

(Joseph Walshe / SWNS)

Warwick District Council rejected a planning application for the mast last year but it was given the go ahead following an appeal to the government’s planning inspectorate.

Labour councillor Chris King, who represents the ward where the mast was built, said:“Not only had Leamington Town Council, but also district planners, refused the planning application but the planning inspector ignored that advice and granted it.

“I can’t tell you how angry this makes me, not specifically over this instance but in general.

“It shows a contempt for local views.

“In this instance your local councillors and local council planners did their job but to no end other than to be ignored. That is the issue to be publicised.”

Engineers installing the mast said it wouldn’t improve the signal for locals due to the way the signal is distributed.

One of the contractors said: “These masts will be popping up everywhere soon. It’s all part of the Government’s plan to make sure we’ve got better connectivity.”

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