A petition by the Liberal Democrats against the proposal to temporarily implement the mast at Jesus Green for a maximum of a year had reached over 2,000 sharesBilly Wilson/Flickr

Plans to erect a 30-metre tall phone mast beside the tennis courts on Jesus Green have been scrapped.

Waldron Telecom had applied for the plot through the council’s planning website in December 2020 on behalf of the EE and Three phone networks. The plot was intended to provide a temporary location for the mast for a maximum period of twelve months.

Their existing mast, located at Park Street Car Park, is set to be dismantled during the demolition of the car park in autumn of this year. The demolition is making way for a five-storey hotel and 225-space underground public car park. 

However, this proposal sparked controversy when local Liberal Democrats published a petition entitled ‘Stop the Jesus Green Mast’ in February, which expressed concerns that the mast and its 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.” The petition reached 2,207 signatures as of 23/04. 

Following local opposition from councillors and other groups,  a planning application was submitted for an alternative temporary relocation atop Bridge House at 13-14 Round Church Street.

Friends of Jesus Green Pool, The Park Street Residents Association and the Jesus Green Association, were among groups arguing that the relocation of the mast would go against the biodiversity and conservation tenets of their Green Flag Award, an accreditation for well-managed parks and green spaces.

After an initial application was made to temporarily implement the antenna at Bridge House in May last year and rejected in November, the council has now accepted the application, meaning that considerations are no longer underway for a mast on Jesus Green. 

Both Labour and Liberal Democrat Councillors have lauded the decision.

Katie Thornburrow, Labour Executive Councillor for Planning Policy and Open Spaces, told Varsity: “This will be a great relief to local residents and everyone who makes use of this important open space [Jesus Green]. It also shows the planning system working effectively [...] The planning department have done what we hoped they would, and I’m grateful to the team for their rapid and thorough assessment.”

She continued: “We have always been totally opposed to relocating the mast onto Jesus Green or any of the Council’s common land, and I’m delighted that we’ve been able to find an alternative. Thank you especially to the Park Street Residents Association for all their work on this too, and to all who signed petitions to make sure that Cambridge residents’ voices were heard loud and clear.”


Mountain View

Plans for 30 metre phone mast on Jesus Green met with opposition

Meanwhile, Councillor Katie Porrer, on behalf of Liberal Democrat councillors, welcomed the U-turn from the council to approve the application at Bridge House, saying: “It is a tribute to all those city residents who campaigned so hard to avert the phone mast being erected on the Jesus Green tennis courts, which would have been a truly outrageous outcome.”

She continued that the Labour council “still must co-operate to ensure the new antenna can be installed before they start their car park demolition. This has shaken trust in the council as custodian of our public open spaces and it does now need to examine how tunnel-vision in its role as developer led to such an inversion of priorities and such a close shave.”

The mast's 5G potential, as listed in a ‘5G and Future Technology’ document from Cambridge Shared Planning, means it will be placed high on the roof of Bridge House because of the “far more complex radio requirement.”

In contrast to the scrapped 30-metre ground-level mast on Jesus Green, the height of Bridge House will only be extended by 6.05 metres under the new plan.