Plans to install phone masts on Kilburn church stalled

St. Augustine's Church

St. Augustine's Church - Credit: Archant

Campaigners have been granted a temporary reprieve

Campaigners hoping to stop the Church of England installing phone masts in the steeple of an historic church in Kilburn have been granted a temporary reprieve.

The vicar of the Grade-I listed St Augustine’s Church, in Kilburn Park Road, has been vying to have nine mobile phone antennae installed for operators Vodaphone and O2 for a sum said to be under £15,000.

Despite pleas and opposition from neighbours concerned at the proliferation of masts, and the effect on the church building, which would have its original louvres replaced with fibreglass ones, the Church of England gave the go-ahead last month.

But the whole endeavour has ground to a halt because the network operators have frozen works on new sites, according to New Edge Telecommunications (NET), the Church’s contractor for mobile phone mast installations.

Peter Morrell-Brown, NET’s managing director, said: “All the sites went on hold when Vodafone and O2 approached Ofcom for a ‘ranshare’ agreement. That is essentially where operators can share equipment and antennae. They need to find a way to provide the level of capacity people want while still generating profit. They have now got the agreement but Vodafone and O2 are concentrating on upgrading their existing sites. So all these proposed sites are on hold. When they come off hold, we will take it from there.”

He added: “Data usage is going up at an enormous rate. The only way to keep up with that is to put up more sites with antennae on.”

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A petition of more than 360 signatures was gathered against the plans, and Westminster Council even warned the Diocese of London it may pursue an injunction if unauthorised works began.