Anger over 'monstrous' 5G mast in South Shields' Whiteleas area - and concerns over wannabe 'Banksys'

Councillors have slammed a “monstrous” telecoms mast erected at a South Shields shopping parade and fear it could bring the area down.

Friday, 26th November 2021, 6:13 pm

Earlier this year, plans were approved for an 18-metre monopole and other works off Whiteleas Way as part of a drive to expand 5G coverage.

However the plans have sparked fury from local ward councillors who say the development clashes with the wider regeneration of the area.

This includes the monopole’s appearance, impact on businesses and the ‘service boxes’ having the potential to attract antisocial behaviour and vandalism.

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(l-r) Whiteleas ward councillors Bill Brady and Ernest Gibson beside the monopole development at Whiteleas Way, South Shields

“It’s a shopping area and we have de-cluttered it over the years by removing the flower beds and different obstacles to make it accessible for disabled people,” said Ernest Gibson, ward councillor for Whiteleas.

“Applicants came around with a 5G mast which was supposed to have a wrap around cabinet at the bottom but they have put all these boxes in.

“It’s going to be an eyesore because it’s going to be full of graffiti but it’s also 30 feet from people’s front windows.

“We need better consultation on this and I will be raising concerns to prevent this from happening again in other locations.

(l-r) Whiteleas ward councillors Bill Brady and Ernest Gibson beside the monopole development at Whiteleas Way, South Shields

“People are living here and we’re trying to do our best for our community and then we get this.”

Cllr Gibson added: “It’s monstrous and an eyesore, people shouldn’t have to look out of their window at that and in a few weeks time you will have the so-called ‘Banksys’ coming.

“Telecommunications companies want 5G but they should be putting masts in the right locations.”

South Tyneside Council planners deemed the monopole development acceptable and granted prior approval for the scheme in early October 2021.

(l-r) Whiteleas ward councillors Bill Brady and Ernest Gibson beside the monopole development at Whiteleas Way, South Shields.

According to planning documents from applicant CK Hutchison Networks (UK) Ltd, the height of the monopole was “kept down to the absolute minimum capable of providing the required essential new 5G coverage.”

A supporting statement submitted on behalf of the company added the site was surrounded by street lights of a similar size, therefore “preventing the proposed equipment from appearing incongruous within the surrounding area.”

The document goes on to say: “This site has been strategically situated on a wide stretch of pavement meaning that, after installation of the proposed equipment, the pavement width will facilitate the free-flow of pedestrians within this area, preventing any obstruction to such an amenity.”

However, local councillors say the plans could have been clearer regarding the location of the mast and that they are taking this matter further with council officers.

Whiteleas ward councillor Bill Brady added: “The mast is just ugly and uncalled for, it’s a monstrosity.”

For more information on the plans, visit South Tyneside Council’s online planning portal and search reference: ST/0611/21/TPN