PROTESTORS campaigning against plans to site a 15-metre high mobile phone mast near their homes in Bradford on Avon are celebrating after Wiltshire Council refused the scheme.

Planning officers at County Hall in Trowbridge made a delegated decision on Friday to refuse the application by Telefonica UK Ltd on behalf of developers Galliford Try.

It is the second time that protestors have claimed victory against the Hinckley-based company – earlier this year it withdrew its first application in the face of strong local opposition.

The decision was welcomed by overjoyed protestors, who had submitted more 200 letters and a 1,385-signature petition against the scheme.

Local resident Rosemary Brown said: “The residents of Bradford on Avon greatly welcome the final decision of Wiltshire Council to refuse the re-submission of the planning application for a very high telecommunications mast in a most inappropriate location and are absolutely delighted with the success of their strong and well supported campaign.

“This is indeed a great triumph for democracy and hopefully second time round the applicant will get the message that Bradfordians do not want their precious heritage ruined and want to uphold the conservation rights in this area."

The company’s clients, Vodafone and O2, had wanted to improve the signal strength for their mobile phone networks in Bradford on Avon and the surrounding area by installing the mast at the BT telephone exchange at Priory Park overlooking the town.

But the council refused the plans saying the proposed mast was situated too close to the boundary of the town’s conservation area and a number of nearby listed buildings.

“The siting and height of the proposed column, on elevated land above the street level, would harm the setting of these designated heritage assets,” the council’s decision notice said.

It went on: “The National Planning Policy Framework makes it clear that great weight should be given to the conservation of these designated heritage assets.

“Whilst the proposal will lead to less than substantial harm to the significance of these designated assets, harm is still caused and this harm is not outweighed by the public benefits of the proposal.”

Alex Kay, chair of Bradford on Avon’s planning and environment committee, said: "It is good that Wiltshire Council take Bradford on Avon's heritage assets seriously. I hope that a better solution to the town's poor mobile signal can be found."

It is not yet known whether Galliford Try intends to appeal the decision. The company has been approached for a comment.

The company re-submitted proposals for a phone mast and associated base station equipment on land at the BT telephone exchange following a similar application earlier this year that was later withdrawn.

Protestors claimed there was a health risk from the electro-magnetic frequencies and non-ionised radiation likely to be emitted from the mast. They said this would present a health hazard to people living nearby and children at the Christchurch Primary School.

They argued the mast would impact negatively on the local conservation area and could act as a ‘Trojan horse’ for further development on the site.

Objecting to the application, the town’s planning and environment committee criticised Galliford Try for its failure to respond to their letter sent on July 21.

Councillors said the proposed mast was too close to the town’s conservation area and would have a potential impact on protected species such as birds and bats.

They also said the company had not “adequately” assessed viable alternative sites and had not provided any explanation of why they could not upgrade the existing mast to provide better signal coverage, or why they could not use other sites outside the conservation area.