Obs oppose cellphone mast

Observatory residents have opposed a proposal to introduce a freestanding base telecommunication station with 25 metre mast, with microwave dishes attached, similar to the one pictured, on the grounds of the Observatory railway station.

A proposed to erect a mast with a telecommunications station in Observatory has not gone down with the locals, who have described the proposal as “horrific” for the area.

The plan is to erect a freestanding base telecommunication station on the grounds of the Observatory railway station, opposite the houses in Lynton Road, with a 25 metre mast, with microwave dishes attached, including a station that will extend to about 60 square metres.

Christo Stoman confirmed that a notice had been sent out by the City of Cape Town informing residents of their intention to construct the mast on the railway station grounds.

“We were given very little notice of the application, but local opposition is, unsurprisingly, strong. Not only is this a ridiculous choice of site for such a mast when there are so many less controversial options farther away from residential Obs (nearer or on the other side of the Liesbeeck river), but the scale of it is entirely unsuitable and out-of-keeping with the heritage aspect of the suburb of Observatory, its station and the public’s access to it,” Mr Stoman said.

He added that while residents were encouraged by the fact that Constantia residents had won their case in the Western Cape High Court when a similar mast had been given planning permission a few years ago, they also realised it was essential to prevent any such application being even considered by council.

“Its very close proximity to residential homes, approximately 10 metres distance from the houses in Lynton Road, and towering height, at almost 20 metres above the houses facing it, renders this application not only ridiculous, but also frightening in its ignorance of the aspects involved,” he said.

Another Observatory resident, Charlene Strydom, could not understand why the City would consider such applications, knowing they would receive some kind of pushback from the community. She said everything about the application seemed “wrong”. “The height, the area, the size and the magnitude; not to mention the health consequences of such an application all needs to be taken into consideration,” she said.

“The City is certainly not using their minds to make a decision like this. It’s clearly driven by something else and we as residents should not stand for it.”

Ms Strydom confirmed that she too had lodged a formal objection against an application of this nature and does not believe that any mast of any type should be allowed to be erected in a residential community.

“We as the residents are the ones who have to live with such horrific constructions. The City has to take our concerns seriously and this should not be a matter where the importance of the mast is placed before the safety of the residents,” she added.

Athanacious Makgamatha from the strategic asset development, signals and Telecommunications department of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA), explained that Prasa Telecoms only erected GSM-R towers within the railway servitude and adjacent to it. The proposal in question was being handled by Intersite Investments, a subsidiary of Prasa.

Mr Makgamatha added that they also have sites in Salt River and Newlands, which are about 15m high – not 25m. Prasa did not respond to additional questions sent to them by the Tatler.