Residents of Heworth outraged over plans for telecommunications mast that would be taller than York Minster

Plans for a new 32 metre-high telecommunications mast in York have been criticised, with neighbours saying it will damage the city’s skyline.

York Minster

To compare the height of the mast to a city landmark, the nave of York Minster is 29 metres high.

One resident has asked if the mast could be attached to the Grade II-listed chimney in Foss Islands Road instead.

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A planning application has been submitted for the telecommunications mast to be installed at the former Heworth gas works site, where 607 new homes are set to be built.

The new structure would be built on the south east side of the site close to the Foss Island cycle route.

But residents and councillors have objected to the height of the mast. There is already a telecommunications structure on the site, but it is 29.5m tall.

A resident objecting to the plans wrote: “The existing telecoms mast obtrudes into and spoils the views of the Minster from East Avenue.

“The proposed location maintains this damaging effect on the city centre’s skyline and should be refused. Could the apparatus be installed sensitively on the listed chimney adjoining Morrisons on Foss Islands Road?”

Coun Bob Webb has called the planning application in for discussion by a committee rather than leaving it to be decided by officers, saying the scheme is “controversial” and has “angered residents”.

He says neighbours living in Heworth Mews close to the path and the site of the new mast will find it is only metres away from their balconies, ruining the views from their homes.

The council’s design team has asked for more information about the impact of the mast on views and on the homes planned for the Heworth Green development.

City of York Council design and sustainability manager Guy Hanson has also written to the planning team, saying: “The proposed mast is slightly taller (2.5m) than the existing one.

“This wasn’t discussed during the Heworth Green application - if anything discussions implied that new technology is often more discrete than existing technology. I’d welcome any clarification on this height increase need.”

Controversial plans for the redevelopment of the former gas works were approved in March 2020 and included the demolition of the existing telephone mast, which dates back to the 1980s.

Residents had already raised concerns about the relocation of the telephone mast and Historic England had said the removal of the old mast would have a positive impact on views of York Minster.

A report by council planning officers written for members of the planning committee ahead of the 2020 decision to approve redevelopment of the former gas works site said: “The telecoms mast will be relocated on site. This will be subject to another planning application.

“Whilst officers are yet to see the design we do expect a more slender and discreet design will be achievable as the existing structure was originally a radio mast.”