I am writing to you on behalf of residents and park users who are campaigning against the siting of a 20 metre GSM-R Network Rail mast next to Norwood Park, in Lambeth, South East London.
We are contacting you as we are dissatisfied with the undemocratic way Network Rail has gone about the process of forcing our community to have this mast thrust upon it.
Network Rail is hiding behind its Permitted Development Rights to construct this mast on the edge of a park in such a dense residential area. If it had to apply for planning permission it would be rejected. We are appealing to you as Secretary of State for Transport to investigate the unjust and unfair way Network Rail is allowed to use PDR to destroy community environments.
The infrastructure went up without a large majority of people being told it was for a 20 metre mast. There is no way the mast, which is due to be erected in March, will be properly screened as it is twice the size of any nearby trees. It will also detract from what is a “protected view” from Norwood Park of the capital and blight the start of a country walk which has been deemed of scientific local interest.
We understand this is being done as a safety measure and have nothing against these masts per see but what we object to is the siting of this particular mast in a dense residential area, spoiling the beauty of one of the few green spaces left in London.
We remain unconvinced by Network Rails’ argument that this site chosen from one of three viable sites along a very short stretch of land is the only or best site. We have received no evidence or proof from Network Rail about the process or the technology used to identify viable sites despite repeated requests. We are told the process is complex but it seems this site was selected simply because it was the easiest to access.
The resistance by Network Rail, a publicly funded company, to re-evaluate this location seems to be entirely down to money but for us this is about quality of life which you can’t put a value on. We will have to live with this monstrosity for generations to come.
We have contacted our local councillors, MP Tessa Jowell, Greater London Authority representative, planners etc and while they support us they seem unprepared to take action even though it goes against Lambeth council’s Unitary Development Plan and what Mayor Boris Johnson advocates in his Strategic Views Framework. There are examples in Haringey and Devon where local councils have used Article 4 of the Town & Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 to stop the development of Network Rail infrastructure impacting on the local environment.
Network Rail underestimates the strong feelings around the siting of this mast. It seems to be under misguided impression that only a handful of people object to the mast and that the problem will simply go away. That is simply not the case and we now have hundreds of signatures on a petition against locating the mast on this site.
I am sure that if a 20 metre mast was going to be located near your park or home you would object just as passionately and hope that your voices would be heard and not just dismissed.
This is a personal appeal to your sense of fairness to intervene.