Letter to local councillors

Dear Philip Glanville, Carole Williams and Clayeon McKenzie,

I am dropping you a note on behalf of the Angel Wharf Residents Association.

We received today an advanced copy of the Planning Application sent to Hackney by Vodafone from their company Ctil, along with various reports that state "the local councillors were consulted and did not respond" I thought you need to be aware of this. The report was submitted by Chris.dalby@sinclairdalby.co.uk of Sinclair Dalby Ltd on behalf of Vodafone. I thought you might like to rectify that with a reply.

Angel Wharf Residents Association are currently leading the opposition to the proposed installation of a telecoms mast on top of 164 Angel Wharf which borders the Regents Canal.

We have written to Hackney Planning Department to ensure that our interest in this planning application is noted, I have heard nothing from the planning department and have sent another email the other day. It looks like the Planning Department have been in correspondence about this application with Vodafone for quite some time.

We are asking residents to write to you to express their opposition to the proposals:

Our main objections are:

1. The Site is within the Regent's Canal Conservation Area (the "Conservation Area"). The proposed installation of the Equipment (12 pole mounted antennas, 2 microwave dishes and 6 equipment cabinets and development ancillary support equipment etc) will have a visual impact upon the canal side 'street scene' and appears incompatible with the preservation of the green corridor of the Conservation Area and special character of the area. There has clearly been careful management and consideration of the Conservation Area given the type of, and planning permissions granted. Buildings adjacent to the canal are very sympathetic to the area and a pleasant environment has been created along the canal for the public to enjoy. In our opinion the installation of the Equipment at the Site would jeopardise the character and appearance of the Conservation Area, given the Equipment would be very clearly visible from the canal and, the homes and buildings adjacent to the canal. This is particularly important as the Site is surrounded by and considered part of the views from several important buildings and structures. These include Sturts Lock, houseboats at the entrance of Wenlock Basin and Holborn Studios. These are specifically referred to in the Regent's Canal Conservation Area Appraisal and the Site is specifically referred to as a Focal Point. Conservation areas enjoy special protection under the law and any planning permission needs to demonstrate that any development proposal preserves or enhances the character or appearance of a conservation area.

As far as we can ascertain there are currently no phone masts inside the Hackney Regent's Canal Conservation Area and if this goes ahead it will be the thin edge of the wedge and the Canal is under so much threat it needs robust protecting.

2. The proposed installation of the Equipment is on an upper section of the roof that can only be accessed from across the whole length of our 'green roof' at the Site. This green roof is important to local ecology including local wildfowl and enhances the biodiversity of the waterway corridor. The green roof has been installed across most of the site as part of preserving and enhancing the Conservation Area (green roofs are referred to in the Regent's Canal Conservation Area Appraisal). We know that CTIL has not considered the environmental impact of the proposed installation of the Equipment and furthermore that CTIL have not commissioned professional advice in relation to this or access to the proposed small upper roof site.

3. The only notice received of the proposed installation of the Equipment has been through the freeholder of the Site sending mandatory Section 5 notices under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987 (right of first refusal on disposals by landlord). Under the Code of Best Practice on Mobile Network Development in England (the "Code"), CTIL should be undertaking a consultation with the local community. There has been no consultation of the community, in fact Ctil claim they do not consult unless there are complaints and they consider dealing with complaints to be the consultation process. It is clear in the documentation that the equipment (12 pole mounted antennas, 2 microwave dishes and 6 equipment cabinets and development ancillary support equipment etc) is only the beginning of maximising this site and they plan to share/sublet this site with other providers; in fact, they have a legal obligation to do this.

4. In accordance with the Code, CTIL have prepared a Traffic Light Rating Model (the "Model") for the proposed installation of the Equipment. But in our opinion the Model has not taken into account points 1 and 2 above (i.e. the Site is in the Conservation Area and that that the proposed installation of the Equipment is accessed across a 'green roof' which could have an environmental impact).

5. It is clear why the Site has been shortlisted for the installation of the Equipment, CTIL has provided a list of nine other sites that it sent an exploratory letter to: 6 did not reply, 1 said "no thanks", 1 was too far away, 1 belonged to Hackney Council which is against Council policy, ONLY 1 site expressed any interest and as such has been selected. It does not seem to us that the site was the optimal site for the installation of the Equipment, is was the only site that they have seriously considered. Ctil have not carried out due process in their selection process. In particular, given that the building is only six stories, the Equipment would be at a very low position and very visible for the public and users of the canal as well as for residents in the surrounding area. This relates to point 1 above. Furthermore, under the Code, it is not preferable for mobile electronic communications equipment to be installed on a residential building. There do not seem to be any other buildings adjacent to the canal that have phone mast installations on them. This relates to point 2 above.

6. We have recently been swamped with planning applications and consultations, the Cross Rail 2 plans will take out 2 of the prime non-residential buildings and if a canalside site has to be found (which we don't accept in any case) why hasn't the Post Office site been assessed.

7. Finally, as residents and homeowner at the Site, we are concerned about the repercussions of the installation of the Equipment in two regards. Firstly, we are concerned on the effect of the installation on the aesthetics of the building (i.e. we did not purchase an expensive lease in a building on the canal that had mobile electronic communications equipment installed on it) and in our opinion the installation ruins the aesthetics of the building. Secondly, it is our opinion that the installation of the Equipment could affect the value and desirability of our apartments (i.e. many people could be put off purchasing an apartment in a building with a mobile phone mast on top of it which could affect the value of, and how easily we could sell our apartment in the future).

As an aside we are confused about the Hackney Council Policy of not allowing any phone masts on any of their buildings and I wondered if you could separately advise what is the rationale and justification behind this. It is also worth noting that a quarter of all the residential units are rented out to Hackney Council tenants. We wonder how the Hackney Council policy only extends to its buildings and does not cover its' tenants.

We have embarked on a campaign of writing to Ctil who we expect will be exchanging contracts with E&J the Freeholders next week on the new lease, in spite of the obvious objections. It has already been demonstrated that Vodafone / Ctil will do the minimum as it has on site selection and assessment, consultation and engagement and will meet every objection with a strong negative response. The freeholders have refused to engage and refuse to make Vodafone responsible for any maintenance costs to maintain the stairs, lifts and access to the site, irrespective of the damage and impact during installation and with on-going maintenance. This just seems wrong to us.

We know we have the support of Cllr Philip Glanville and we would like to confirm the support of all of our council representatives. I appreciate that this is a long email but I felt it was better to outline all our arguments against this.

Yours sincerely,


Martin Brophy MBE

Angel Wharf.RA Steering Committee


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/AngelWharfRA/

Twitter handle: @angel_wharfRA

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead

Related web pages

Threat to conservation area

Residents' Association flyer

Letter to councillors

Planning applications