COUNCILLORS have voiced their anger after it emerged a plan to site a “monstrosity” of a mobile phone mast on a picturesque Wollescote cricket pitch has been approved without a public meeting.

Cornerstone and Telefonica UK Ltd submitted an application to Dudley Council last summer outlining 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 sparked outrage from residents and councillors Tim Crumpton and Richard Body who said the land, part of Stevens Park which was gifted to the public by benefactor Ernest Stevens, should be kept for recreation use.

Cradley and Wollescote councillors Crumpton and Body submitted strong objections to the scheme and Stourbridge’s MP Suzanne Webb called for the application to go before Dudley’s development control committee given the “significant local interest”.

But it has now emerged the plan was approved under delegated powers on Friday May 27.

Cornerstone has said the mast will help to provide a better service for customers and a document produced as part of the application process said upgrading to 5G would “offer higher speeds and capacity than anything that has come before".

A spokesperson said after planning approval was granted: “Cornerstone has now received permission to develop a mobile phone base station at Wollescote Road cricket pitch to provide customers with essential network connectivity and enhanced network capacity in the area.

“We have worked closely with the local planning authority to ensure the location of this infrastructure minimises local impact whilst also enabling quality digital connectivity to the communities we serve.”

Cllr Crumpton, however, has called for the matter to go before the Ernest Stevens Trust Management Committee as the land was gifted through a deed of gift for the benefit of the people.

He said: “I’m calling for an urgent public meeting of the Ernest Stevens Trust Committee.

“We want people to be able to come along and say why they believe we should not allow this to go ahead.

“Myself and Cllr Body are adamantly opposed to it as are the Friends of Wollescote Park and we’re calling for it to be thrown out.”

He said despite planning approval being granted the telecoms company would not be able to site the mast there if the trust disagreed as the application site is privately-owned land, not council-owned.

Cllr Crumpton added: “It’s an area of high historic value and this is yet another monstrosity.”

He said siting the mast on the cricket pitch would “destroy the most beautiful view we’ve got in the borough”.

Cllr Body added: “There’s no need to put this mast on the park, there’ll be absolute outrage; it’s open green space that was left for us.”

The Friends of the Park said they were “horrified” by the plan and that no consultation had been sought with the Ernest Stevens Trust.

Chairperson Julia Marks said the group was “hugely disappointed and frustrated” to see the application approved and she added: “The Friends group made a formal objection to this plan. The mast is planned to be within the park adjacent to woodland planted to commemorate the millennium.

“Ernest Stevens, who gifted the land to the community 90 years ago, would undoubtedly be hugely disappointed.”