Opposition to the plan has come from the city council, as well as local associationsAmy Howell

Liberal Democrats on Cambridge city council have started a petition to oppose a 30 metre tall phone mast set to be erected beside the tennis courts on Jesus Green. 

Waldron Telecom applied for the plot through the council’s planning website in December 2020, on behalf of the EE and Hutchinson 3G (commonly known as Three) phone networks. 

The petition, titled ‘Stop the Jesus Green Mast’, argues that the structure outlined in the planning application, including the mast and accompanying equipment, would “visually scar one of the city’s most iconic and well-used open spaces, seriously harming its amenity value and conservation character.”

At the time of writing the petition holds over 1,900 signatures.  

The existing mast in Park Street Car Park will be lost with the demolition of the site, in order to build the council’s ‘aparthotel’ project, which will include 227 rooms intended to be leased to Staycity, as well as an underground car park. 

The new location for the mast was selected as an emergency temporary measure and the council has agreed a maximum period of 12 months for the mast to remain on Jesus Green once erected. 

Lib Dem Anthony Martinelli, city councillor for Market Ward, said in a press release: “The council should postpone its redevelopment of the car park until a suitable location has been settled on for the phone antenna. Jesus Green should not be used as a buffer of last resort for infrastructure in this way.”

The Lib Dems have criticised the Labour-led city council’s handling of the matter, but Labour councillors say they have no legal route to block the planning application due to the Town and Country Planning Act (2015), which stipulates that certain building works do not require planning application or permission, even though the council owns the land.

Labour councillor Katie Thornburrow, the Executive Councillor for Planning Policy and Open Spaces, said that the council's “options are severely limited by national legislation”, but that in principle “Labour councillors are totally opposed to relocating the mast to Jesus Green or onto any of the City Council’s common land.” 

However, Lib Dem councillor Katie Porrer maintained in a press release that: “The council has made one disastrous mistake after another. The car park redevelopment has been planned for over 5 years and it’s clear the council has simply not treated the phone antenna on top as a serious issue.”

Porrer also questioned the guarantee that the mast would only be up for a year: “For 5 years they have failed to identify a suitable permanent site - which shows how difficult the search is […] ‘Temporary’ could easily turn into ‘permanent’.”


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Both Labour and Lib Dem press statements emphasised that it is important that residents retain their phone service for access to essential services and social contact.

They also both express the view that public green spaces are becoming ever more valuable to residents, and that the placement of this mast would threaten the value of Jesus Green as an open space. 

There has been other local opposition to the plans, with the Friends of Jesus Green Pool urging people to sign the Lib Dem petition.

Meanwhile, Roy MacGregor, chair of The Park Street Residents Association, said: “The council’s own hotel development could easily accommodate new telecoms equipment […] Why spoil Jesus Green and place it next to Park Street Primary School playing fields?”.  

The Jesus Green Association also cited their Green Flag Award (an accreditation for well-managed parks and green spaces) as evidence of the green’s “biodiversity and conservation of landscape, buildings and structures”, and that the mast would “destroy the very nature of this well loved and busy public space.”