IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

‘Keep your antennas off our roof’

Anger over new telecoms gear planned for top of estate blocks

14 February, 2020 — By Sam Ferguson

Richard Larcombe and Sarah Nash, centre, with unhappy estate residents

RESIDENTS remain concerned by plans to install hundreds of antennas on two social housing blocks.

Telecommunications company Luminet wants to install 86 antennas on Michael Cliffe House, while 65 are planned for the roof of nearby Braithwaite House in Finsbury.

The company had prevuously withdrawn plans after objections but they are now back on the table.

Residents have complained they get more information from the Tribune than the council or Luminet about the work.

The company will provide better internet connections for businesses signed up with Luminet.

It insists the gear will not be for 5G networks.

More than 200 permanent residents from across the estate have signed letters of objection to the plans.

Richard Larscombe, head of Finsbury Estate Residents’ Association, said it was not fair that social housing tenants were forced to accept such projects without reaping any of the expected benefit.

“We don’t know why it should be the case that social housing should be the automatic choice for developments like this,” he said.

“There’s no trust any more. Our main objection is that it has no benefits for the residents on the estate. It will improve internet connections for independent businesses.

“We’re worried it could also act as a gateway to other telecommunications companies putting equipment on similar buildings, and on ours.”

But the council, in a letter to be sent to residents shortly, will blame a change in the law which means it’s “much more difficult for landlords to refuse permission for phone masts and mobile phone companies can apply to the courts to impose leases on the council”.

The council will say this change has lost them the ability to refuse rental agreements and demand reasonable terms for installing equipment on council buildings.

It will also tell residents any money earned will go towards housing services and estate maintenance and improvements, and point to the benefits of better internet connections for local businesses.

But Mr Larscombe remains worried about the level of access needed to maintain the antennas.

“The roof was not built with this in mind,” he said. “The council hasn’t been able to confirm that an impact survey has been carried out to make sure the roof can take this sort of pressure. These are also two building that the 20th Century Society included when they compiled the Brutalist map of London.”

Laying fibres underneath the pavement is listed as an alternative to rooftop antennas, according to Luminet’s plans, which the company said would cause “weeks of disruption”.

Susie Lukes, who lives in the top floor of Braithwaite House, said: “I just don’t believe that these antennas will have no impact. Why can’t they build these antennas on non-residential buildings?”

Luminet was contacted for comment.

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