Huge new Exeter phone mast branded an 'eyesore'

The new phone mast on the grass verge on the roundabout at the bottom of Stoke Hill
-Credit: (Image: Submitted)

Exeter residents have expressed their shock at seeing a new 17m phone mast suddenly appear beside a busy roundabout in the Stoke Hill area of the city and have branded it an 'eyesore'. In April 2023, planning permission was granted by Exeter City Council to site the imposing mast and associated equipment on a grass verge at the bottom of Stoke Hill by The Stoke Arms pub.

The applicant, CK Hutchison Networks (UK) Ltd - commonly known as Three - identified the location to ensure that new 5G coverage can be provided in the area alongside high quality 3G and 4G service provision.

Within the application documents, it states consultation letters, a site location plan and monopole design were sent to the headteacher and chair of governors of Stoke Hill Junior School and Nursery in January 2023, and local councillor were also notified.

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The application states: "This site will enable 5G coverage to be provided to this area of Stoke Hill. The government recognises that widespread coverage of mobile connectivity is essential for people and businesses.

"That is why the government is committed to extending mobile geographical coverage further across the UK, with continuous mobile connectivity provided to all major roads and to being a world leader in 5G. This will allow everyone in the country to benefit from the economic advantages of widespread mobile coverage."

It added: "The demand for mobile data in the UK is increasing rapidly, and as households and businesses become increasingly reliant on mobile connectivity, the infrastructure must be in place to ensure supply does not become a constraint on future demand.

"The radio base station will also meet the extra demands on the network in this area as more people use enabled handheld devices."

In terms of the impact the mast would have on the local surrounding area, it said: "The immediate surrounding area contains several linear structures, including lighting columns, telegraph poles and road signage, with large mature trees in all directions from the site which provide a backdrop for the proposed monopole and screening from the nearest residential properties."

However, not all local residents are in agreement. Following a Facebook post about its arrival on community page Heavitree and Exeter Community United in which it was described as 'out of proportion', one Facebook user commented: "What an eyesore".

Another added: "It stands out like a sore thumb." A local resident questioned its location and said: "It was the first thing I noticed coming down the hill. The poor houses opposite! Why is it not in a place hidden by trees?!"

Three UK confirmed no comments or responses were received following its pre-application consultation letters with site location plan and monopole design sent to local ward councillors for Pennsylvania, and the headteacher and chair of governors at Stoke Hill Junior School and Nursery.

A Three UK spokesperson said: “5G rollout is vital for residents and businesses of Exeter. We want to offer the community a reliable network experience and our planners determined that this site was required to deliver it.

“While we try to keep mast sites as unobtrusive as possible, they do need to be situated near to where people will be using the service and, in many cases, in precise locations to ensure the widest breadth of coverage.”