CONTROVERSIAL plans to install a 5G communications mast - which will neighbour a grade I-listed church and ‘blight’ an historic setting - have been condemned by angry locals who have vowed to fight the bid.

An application, submitted on behalf of Three, was lodged with Barnsley Council and reveals the firm’s plan to erect an 18-metre-high pole on Shrewsbury Road, Penistone.

The location has irked locals given its close proximity to St John’s Church and other historic sites including Penistone Town Hall.

The Chronicle can reveal Penistone Town Council held an emergency meeting last week to discuss the scheme ahead of its public consultation period ending on Monday.

Joe Unsworth, the town council’s head of planning, said: “We have objected to the application in the strongest possible terms because the proposed location is very close to the church, which is a grade I-listed building.

“The proposal is to site the telecommunications pole and associated equipment on Shrewsbury Road, near the entrance to the church, and the proposed pole would be higher than the church’s steeple.

“The proposed siting on Shrewsbury Road would have a severely detrimental effect on the setting and environment.

“An objection in principle to the extension of the 5G network could not be considered as an objection on planning grounds because the decision to extend the 5G network has been made by the government.

“The only objection with any prospect of success would be on the suitability of the proposed site.”

Although the statutory public consultation ended on Monday, calls have been made this week for Barnsley Council to extend the period given the local interest expressed at the meeting.

Coun Hannah Kitching added: “I have received a number of emails and queries about this planning application, and have had discussions with representatives of St John’s Church and also the planning case officer.

“I submitted an objection to these proposals many weeks ago, when I was made aware of them at pre-planning stage.

“I had hoped that it would not progress to a full planning application, but it has, and I reiterated my objections as soon as the application was received.

“Of course there is a need for improved telecommunications connectivity in Penistone, but this proposed site is completely inappropriate.

“It is proposed to be situated right outside the church and churchyard - a grade I-listed listed building - so a structure of this size is quite inappropriate for such a location and would negatively impact on this beautiful, historic building.

“As well as the church, the mast would also be near to other historic buildings - Penistone Town Hall and the Paramount Cinema.

“I fear that the overbearing size of this mast would detract from this important part of the street scene.

“Shrewsbury Road and the above mentioned buildings are being developed under the Principal Towns scheme as a key way-marked route from the transport hub at the train station to the High Street and market place.

“There are plenty of precedents to support the rejection of the application for a mast in such a location, and I am hopeful that there is a good case to reject this one, too.”

A spokesperson on behalf of Three told the Chronicle the site is the ‘best available compromise’.

“It is recognised that the very nature of installing new 5G mast infrastructure within a dense urban setting requires a well-considered balance between the need to extend practical coverage with that of increasing risk of visual intrusion.

“The proposed site option is considered the best available compromise for extending 5G service.”