The Municipal Planning Tribunal (MPT) has approved an application for 20-metre high free-standing cell mast at the Glenwood shopping centre in Townsend Street.
In a report at its meeting on Tuesday September 12, the MPT said the application by Warren Petterson Planners (WPP), on behalf of Vodacom, had been submitted in November last year.
Twenty-three objections were received from residents in Wilger Crescent; Townsend, Orchid and Kershout streets; Umthi Close and Pinewood Avenue.
The objectors said the mast would hurt property values, be intrusive and pose a health threat because of its electro-magnetic radiation.
The mast, they said, would be “too close to the residential area” and they asked why it couldn’t be piggybacked on other cellular infrastructure elsewhere.
“It will without a shadow of a doubt stick out like a sore thumb as there are no other trees in that particular surrounds reaching that height,” said one resident.
Residents wantedto know why the mast could not be located in nearby Acacia Park parliamentary village and Wingfield military base, where tracts of open land are available.
“The structure as proposed will have a very negative aesthetic effect on an established residential area,” said another resident in his objection.
The application also included a request to relax the 4.5m building line to zero to accommodate the cellular base station.
WPP said erf 35109 was zoned general business and therefore had a street building line of 4.5m if the height of the structure was more than 10m.
The infrastructure includes the 20m high pole, nine-panel antennae, two microwave dishes and two equipment units.
“The site will measure 8.1metre by 3.8metre site would fenced off with a 2.4metre fence, with a lockable gate, connected to an existing wall.
“Access to the site is limited to authorised persons and access points would be kept locked at all times for security and safety purposes. These measures rule out the possibility of public access to the equipment,” WPP said.
WPP said congestion of existing sites, and a decrease in coverage range meant smaller distances were needed between sites.
“It is calculated that cellular network operators in South Africa will build 2800 new base stations over the next five years,” it said.
Also, locating the site in Acacia Park, as suggested by residents, would “not provide sufficient LTE and 4G coverage for the area of Glenwood (the target area) and commuters utilising the busy road, Frans Conradie Drive”. The City of Cape Town’s planning department said the mast was approved because it “would not have a significant impact on the residential character of the surrounding area, nor will it affect the development pattern and land use character of the area”.
The City’s health directorate said if future scientific evidence supported a link between electro-magnetic field radiation and health, the consent for the mast would be reviewed, “which could result in the decommissioning of the station”.