Urban Extension thwarts mobile mast plan

PLANS to develop listed military buildings along with 4,500 new houses in Aldershot have put paid to plans to install a new mobile phone mast at the top of Hospital Hill.

The victory for buildings conservation experts comes as people will have the chance this weekend to get an early glimpse of what Aldershot may look like after the town’s urban extension is built.

A combined bid by mobile operators O2 and Vodafone to install a new 40-foot high mobile phone mast in Pennefathers Road, Aldershot, was withdrawn last week after planning officers recommended that the application should be thrown out.

The phone companies said they needed the mast to improve network coverage for people making calls and using the internet on smartphones in that part of Aldershot.

But planners at Rushmoor Borough Council’s conservation department objected to the proposal to site the 21st-century structure within yards of several listed 19th century military buildings and war memorials.

The mast would have created a new landmark at the top of Hospital Hill, not far from the Aldershot Centre for Health, and overlooking the upper part of the town centre.

Among those objecting to the plans for the mast was the developer Grainger, which won the contract from the Ministry of Defence to develop the former army barracks to the north of Aldershot into what will become the Aldershot Urban Extension.

The company objected on the grounds that the mast could ruin the look of the ‘gateway’ to the new development, as well as destroying the character of the Aldershot military town conservation area.

Meanwhile, Grainger announced this week that people attending tomorrow’s (Saturday’s) free Aldershot garrison army show would be able to find out about its plans for the urban extension.

The company will be hosting a tent at the show, with members of the public invited to meet the team who will be involved in managing and delivering the project.

As well as providing information about the project and the site, the company said there would be an opportunity to find out how people could be involved in the project as it progresses.

The development promises to bring new affordable homes, parks schools and a variety of community and leisure facilities.

The developers will have to incorporate dozens of historic and listed buildings and monuments from the former military barracks, which Grainger has promised to restore, and many of which will be re-used for new purposes.

The open event is in advance of a planned period of formal public events on the plans which are due to begin the autumn, ahead of the official planning application which is expected early next year, the company said.

John Beresford, Grainger’s development director, said he was proud to be participating in the show.

“We are looking forward to introducing ourselves to the community and building strong partnerships around this exciting project,” he said.

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