Battling BT's blot on the St Albans landscape

PUBLISHED: 06:56 22 February 2010 | UPDATED: 14:56 06 May 2010

UNHAPPY residents supported by the Civic Society are set to take on the might of BT to combat what they see as unnecessary street furniture in the St Albans conservation area. More than 28 monstrous telecommunications cabinets may be about to be distr

UNHAPPY residents supported by the Civic Society are set to take on the might of BT to combat what they see as "unnecessary street furniture" in the St Albans conservation area.

More than 28 "monstrous" telecommunications cabinets may be about to be distributed around various sensitive sites in the city.

Samantha Gregory of Church Crescent, St Albans, was horrified to get a letter informing her that a planning application had gone in to install one of the cabinets outside her house.

Mrs Gregory said: "The cabinets are unsightly, intrusive and not in keeping with the local conservation area.

"At around six feet tall and four feet wide it is far too big. How can the installation of such monstrous cabinets in such a prominent street location be deemed as preserving or enhancing the special architectural or historic interest of this local residential area? Also, the health issues are unknown."

She said she would be canvassing her neighbours in order to get up a petition against the boxes.

BT has applied for planning permission to install the telecommunications boxes in a variety of locations in order to deliver super-fast broadband speeds as part of a £1.5 billion programme being rolled out across the east of England.

The boxes can be installed without planning permission outside conservation areas.

A spokesperson for BT said: "The green cabinets to be installed by Openreach in parts of St Albans to deliver fibre-based broadband to local residents fully comply with health and safety guidelines and do not generate any harmful emissions.

"The cabinets are powered and have fans to keep them cool so passers-by may notice a humming sound."

Eric Roberts of St Albans Civic Sociey said: "We will be making representations to St Albans council over these latest blots on the landscape on environmental, road safety and access grounds. There is already a proliferation of unnecessary street furniture cluttering up our ancient city.

"I have visited Mrs Gregory's house and the pavement outside her house is very narrow and unsuitable for something of this size.

A spokesperson for the district council said they had 56 days in which to grant or refuse permission and immediate adjoining residents had been notified.

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