A BATTLE over plans for a towering mobile phone mast in Hampstead Garden Suburb has begun – just months after a similar scheme was rejected.

The joint proposal by Telefonica UK and Vodafone is to erect a 15m pole with antennas, satellite dishes and four ground cabinets in Falloden Way.

They say it is essential to improve 2G and 3G capacity in the area, and will help roll out 4G coverage for Vodafone and O2 customers.

But critics say the scheme is “almost identical” to one which was rejected by Barnet Council in April for being “unduly obtrusive”.

They also fear it will damage the look of the conservation area, and worry about its impact on road safety.

Howard Newmark, 51, of Gloucester Drive, said: “There is a crossing here and a bus stop used by school kids. Visibility is already pretty poor and it would make it even worse. Parents are naturally worried. This is a very fast road and there have been fatal accidents because of the lack of visibility.

“The whole point of the UNESCO heritage site is to preserve it, it is a very important part of the history of London. The last thing we need is these giant phone masts everywhere.

“It would ruin the view as you come in, it would make a mockery of the suburb. The whole effect is completely ruined if you stick in a giant pole. It is really quite unpleasant and unnecessary.”

Mr Newmark, a video games publisher, disputed whether it was even necessary to improve coverage.

He said: “The coverage, according to Vodafone themselves, is 100 per cent within the suburb for 4G. So if it is for 4G, it is clearly fine already.”

Telefonica and Vodafone say they have redesigned the previous scheme to address concerns by reducing the mast from 17.5m to 15m, and the number of cabinets by one.

But Mr Newmark said: “My biggest gripe is why Barnet Council is even entertaining another application, almost identical to the one that got rejected. It is just nonsense, nothing has changed.

“If something has been rejected, they should not be entitled to reapply within a couple of months. It is a waste of everyone’s time. It is absolutely nonsensical. It is a slap in the face. Residents have just been ignored.”

The Hampstead Garden Suburb Trust is among the objectors to the scheme.

Nick Packard, manager of the trust, said: “The trust does not control the public highway, and this is a proposal to put it on the highway. Our remit is to preserve the character and amenity of Hampstead Garden Suburb.

“In as much as the mast affects the character, we are concerned about it, and we have written in to object. We think it is damaging.”

In a statement, a spokesman for Telefonica UK said: “Vodafone and Telefonica are working together to improve mobile phone coverage in Hampstead Garden Suburbs. We are proposing a new mobile phone base station at Falloden Lane to provide 2G, 3G and 4G to the local area.

“Previously, we applied for a 17.5 m structure at this location however this planning application was refused by the local planning authority. We have amended this application to address the concerns raised and are now applying for a 15.0 m structure.

“Vodafone and Telefonica customers expect to be able to use their mobiles and devices where they live, work and travel. Base stations are low powered devices which cover approximately half a mile in radius, therefore we have to put base stations close to our customers. Without base stations mobile phones would not work.”

A spokesman for Barnet Council said: “The current application is for a telephone mast which is lower, with a reduced number of antennas and equipment cabinets to the previous scheme which was refused.

“As there are a number of differences between the two schemes the council cannot refuse to consider the new application.”