A ROW over where to put a new phone mast is rumbling on, with residents living close to a proposed new site divided on its position.

Communications company EE is looking for a new site for a mast in the Neville’s Cross area of Durham after being given a notice to quit its previous spot.

The company is currently seeking permission to put a new 17.5m mast next to the A167 Darlington Road, close to the entrance of the Sheraton Park estate.

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Around 70 people have written to object to the proposed site, with a range of concerns including the appearance of the mast, its impact on road safety, possible health implications and the possible effect on bats roosting in the area.

Marie Glanville, whose home is next to the site, said: “Our objections are extensive, as this appears to be a wholly ill-considered decision to put forward this site.”

Writing on behalf of Sheraton Park Residents Association, Kevin Booth said: “The introduction of a modern telecom device which provides significantly improved signal and coverage is something that many residents would appreciate as excellent connectivity is becoming more of a standard expectation in society.

“Any such provision should not however become a driving force in changing neighbourhoods and streetscapes solely to overcome the ‘inconvenience’ of limited mobile reception or on commercial grounds.”

Five people have also written in support of the application, saying the development will improve mobile signal in the area.

Paul Armstrong, of Potter’s Bank, said: “This mast will fill a long existing ‘black hole’ in mobile phone coverage for this area.”

EE previously had a mast on the top of Bella Mama’s restaurant, at the top of Neville’s Cross Bank but was given a notice to quit the site.

In August, a 22.5m temporary mast was put up using emergency planning rules, at the bottom of the bank.

But EE says the site is not suitable in the long term because of the steepness of the banks results in poorer signal.

The company says the site has been chosen because it will deliver the required coverage but will minimise the visual impact of the mast.

A statement by EE says: “The site has been carefully selected in a position that benefits from screening effects so as to provide the required new coverage to the area whilst minimising visual intrusion for residential properties.”

Another site had been selected on the A167, but the application was withdrawn because the mast would have obstructed the pavement.