COUNCILLORS have called for a plan to site a mobile phone mast on a Wollescote cricket pitch to be thrown out - saying the land should be kept for recreation purposes.

An application submitted to Dudley Council by Cornerstone and Telefonica UK Ltd outlines a plan to site a 5G 22.5-metre mobile phone mast on Wollescote Road cricket pitch to provide 5G mobile phone coverage for Vodafone and Telefónica customers.

The proposal, however, has sparked outrage from some residents in the area and local councillors Richard Body and Tim Crumpton have objected to the plan to locate the equipment on land that forms part of Stevens Park which was bequeathed to the public by benefactor Ernest Stevens.

Cllr Body, who represents Cradley and Wollescote, said: "The park is public open space and left in trust for recreation purposes only - not for private companies to site their telecoms masts. I trust the council, with support from the Stevens Trust, will simply dismiss this ridiculous application."

Fellow Cradley and Wollescote councillor Tim Crumpton added: "The mast is not in our ward but it is unbelievable that having stopped the mast initially proposed directly in front of Wollescote Hall this now comes up on the opposite side of the road and would encroach on the trust land.

"We also have a mast planned directly at the foot of gardens in Wynall Lane. This is only about 600 metres as the crow flies distant. How many of these monstrosities are they to build?

"Sadly they are classed as essential so do not need full planning permission, we will be asking for a meeting with the developers to see if we can get some common sense applied to these sites."

One resident who has written to Dudley planners to object to the scheme said the proposed mast would be "very much unsightly" - especially in the vicinity of a Grade II listed property and they said: "The cricket pitch is used by many people every day, and the children's park run every Sunday. The park run goes into this corner where development is planned."

Another added: "This structure will dominate the landscape of an extremely picturesque area and be to its detriment. This parkland is a valued haven of peace and quiet surrounded by dense population and must be preserved."

Stourbridge MP Suzanne Webb has called for the application to be considered by Dudley's development control committee and she said: "I am aware of significant local interest in this application, therefore I believe it should be determined by the committee in open session to ensure full public scrutiny of the planning process."

A document produced by Cornerstone as part of the application says upgrading to 5G technology will "offer higher speeds and capacity than anything that has come before" and it adds: "Whether it be in the healthcare, transport, energy or retail sectors, 5G will reshape how we use these services and will bring substantial savings to households, businesses and councils."

But it says further investment in digital infrastructure is needed for the benefits to be delivered and it adds: "5G uses higher frequency radio signals that have a shorter range and will require more base station sites than the existing networks. As 5G is to deliver new technology, so too the infrastructure required is different than that necessary to provide the previous generations of connectivity."

A spokesperson for Cornerstone said: "Vodafone and O2 customers expect to be able to use their mobiles and devices where they live, work and travel. Cornerstone, who manage the planning applications, have proposed a base station in Wollescote to provide customers with essential network connectivity and enhanced network capacity in the area."

Councillor Simon Phipps, Dudley Council's cabinet member for regeneration and enterprise, said of the application: “As a prior notification application, we must follow a strict legal process. This process means officers must make a decision under delegated powers within 56 days of the application.

“Therefore, it is not possible for this application to go to development control for a decision."

A prior notification means the local planning authority can only consider the siting and appearance of a development, not the principle of the development.