PLANS to put up a 20-metre 5G phone mast have been approved by councillors despite fierce opposition.

Members of Brighton and Hove City Council’s Planning Committee voted six to four to approve the mast plans for Carden Avenue, Patcham, opposite one end of Dale Drive.

It was a tough decision for most of the committee during the virtual meeting on after neighbours sent in 115 letters and emails opposing the plan.

Councillors said that the equipment casing, which would cover an area ten metres long, and the mast, which would be 20 metres high, were ugly.

They questioned what benefit it would bring to the area.

Cora Kelly spoke on behalf of residents saying that the mast would impair views to and from the South Downs.

She said that short-range 5G masts with 300-metre rangers did not belong in a residential area in a small valley.

Ms Kelly said: “As a result of the much more limited range of 5G there will definitely need to be a large number of masts.

“In fact, it will require antennas throughout our community every 500ft. We would argue this is not a single application.”

She said that homes in the area would lose ten per cent of their value and 40 families would directly overlook the mast.

Conservative councillor Alistair McNair, who represents Patcham ward, told the Planning Committee the equipment cabinets would detract from the area’s green verges.

Councillor McNair called them “yet more street furniture that the council can fail to clean the graffiti off of”.

He asked: “Have alternative options been made? Isn’t it worrying that Patcham ward councillors raised several concerns with the applicant and have not had a response.”

He questioned whether the mobile phone companies EE and Three, which are behind the plans, had contacted many residents, describing them as ironically “uncommunicative”.

A statement from EE and Three said that the upgrade was sited and designed to provide 5G coverage and to support the network.

They said that more people were working from home and this meant that the network needed to be upgraded with 5G technology.

Conservative councillor Carol Theobald, who also represents Patcham ward, said the mast was “gigantic”.

She said: “This is taller and bulkier than anything else that’s there. This is the wrong location for this.

“It is so in your face.”

Independent councillor Bridget Fishleigh, who works for a mobile phone company rolling out 5G in Africa, backed Councillor Theobald.

She said: “I think that we are elected to listen to residents.

“All too often, that doesn’t happen. If people who live in this area don’t want to benefit from superfast mobile broadband, we should respect that.”

Independent councillor Tony Janio supported the science behind 5G.

He said: “If you want 5G you’re going to have to have the masts. And you’re going to need a lot more of them.”

Green councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty said that the current opposition to 5G masts reminded him of opposition to mobile technology in the early 21st century.

He said: “There were a whole a series of objections. These were from well-minded people but fundamentally it came from a misunderstanding and misappraisal of the health issues related to the technology.

“I can’t help but feel we’re in the same period with 5G with 99 per cent of scientists saying it does not cause harm.”