Mast on Ilford church closer to go-ahead after Bishop gives approval

A LANDMARK 18th century church steeple will be “defaced”, if plans for a mobile phone mast - backed by a Bishop - get the green light.

The Bishop of Chelmsford, Rt Rev Stephen Cottrell has been accused by residents of allowing a mobile phone mast to be erected on the church in St Andrews Road, Ilford.

Redbridge Council received borough-wide applications from three major mobile phone operators in January this year, as part of ongoing improvements to mobile networks. In this were plans to erect six antennae in the steeple of the church to serve O2 and Vodafone networks.

But 16 objections have been lodged against the plans, for which there is an extended six-week consultation period.

Cranbrook Residents’ Association is just one of the objectors, and chairman Lorraine Silver explained why the Grade II listed building should be protected. “These plans will be detrimental to the heritage and fabric of the aesthetics of this historic building.

“We had the assurance from the previous bishop that this mast would not go up, just last month my friend Rachel wrote to the new bishop, and he replied saying he was going to let plans go ahead.”

Rachel Brook, of Vaughan Gardens,yards from the proposed mast, said the plans would leave the church defaced.

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“The previous Bishop assured me the mast would not go up, when I got a reply back from our new bishop, who has recently taken post, he said he would not be objecting to the plans.”

Under Diocese rules, the only person who can submit plans to the local authority for a church is the bishop.

Angry residents are set to air their feelings tonight (3) at a planning meeting.

Among them, will be representatives from the Frenford Youth Club in The Drive, Ilford.

Mrs Silver added: “The church is directly opposite to homes and do not respect the character of this area; when previous applications were considered, it was established that the area within the spire was insufficient and would not be able to accommodate the antennae.”

A spokesman for Chelmsford Diocese said: “The parish of St Andrew’s, Ilford has applied to allow telecommunications equipment to be installed inside the church by New Edge Telecommunications.

“The Chelmsford Diocesan Advisory Committee, a statutory body set up for the care of churches in the diocese, has not objected to this proposal.”