Midsomer Norton councillor welcomes decision to refuse controversial mast application

The decision to refuse a planning application for an 18m-high mast in Midsomer Norton has been welcomed by a local councillor.

Cllr Chris Watt, Conservative ward member for Midsomer Norton Redfield on B&NES Council, objected to the planning application when it was submitted to planning officers.

The application would have seen the telecommunications mast sited near the grade 11* listed St John’s Church, a prominent location in the Midsomer Norton Conservation Area.  

Although Cllr Watt supported the aspiration of improving telecommunications services in the ward, he did not think the conservation area was an appropriate location for the mast. The installation would have included the mast itself and equipment cabinets on a raised pavement highly visible to motorists and pedestrians.

In a welcome move, Bath and North East Somerset Council earlier this month announced that the application had been refused by planning officers.

The proposal, they said, would be “highly incongruous, harmful to visual amenity and entirely at odds with the historic character of the street scene”.

They added that it would undermine the character of the conservation area and the setting of the nearby listed buildings, especially as the proposed equipment had not been sympathetically designed or camouflaged.

Responding to the decision, Cllr Watt said: “I’m delighted that the Council’s planning officers have refused this application. The mast would undoubtedly have been at odds with the character of the surrounding area and local people would have found it an unnecessary imposition.

“I’m pleased that my objections, and those of other Midsomer Norton residents, have been listened to. The public benefits of the proposal are acknowledged but so too are the public benefits of the conservation area, and as a ward councillor I will continue to stand up for the things that matter most to residents in Midsomer Norton.”

Cllr Watt’s objections to the application were shared by independent Midsomer Norton councillor Paul Myers, who also welcomed the decision.

Cllr Myers said: “Given that the Midsomer Norton and Welton Conservation Area is only one of two at risk in B&NES, it’s great to see that concerns about the impact of this particular proposed mast on the street scene have been listened to by planners.

“This development would never have been allowed in a street in Bath, so I see this as a watershed moment where at last Midsomer Norton’s heritage counts too.”