A vicar is facing stiff opposition from residents concerned about renewed plans to install three telephone masts at the top of a church.

The Rev Laurence Hill, of Holy Trinity Church, in East Finchley, is pushing ahead with the unpopular proposals, two-and-a-half years after gaining planning permission.

But those living near the Grade II listed building, in Church Lane, are again fighting the installation of the masts as they feel it would not benefit the community.

Acting chairman of the East Finchley Village Residents’ Association, Bob Owens, said at the group’s meeting on Monday, that they were not focusing their argument against the plans on health grounds.

“We are concerned with three points,” he said.

“The damage it has done to the mission of the church in this area; the awareness of the masts in the spatial environment, as they will be visible, and the way the application process has gone through.

“The church body should be concerned that the process has had such a negative effect on it.”

Telecomunications company QS4 originally applied in 2006 for planning permission to install three radio antennae within the bell tower.

It was rejected by a Barnet Council planning committee, but that decision was overturned by a Government inspector on appeal in November 2006.

The development was permitted on the condition it began within three years and final plans for the appearance were submitted to the council.

The case was supposed to be heard by the Diocese of London at the church court following the successful appeal, but it was cancelled and the plans have since stalled.

But a statement from the parish of Holy Trinity said it was now seeking approval from the Chancellor of the Diocese of London for the erection of three antennae inside the church’s tower.

It continued: “As is required by the Church of England’s faculty procedure, the church has displayed the required public notice, which covers a period of 28 days describing the details of the proposal.

“After this period the proposal and any objections will be considered by the chancellor before a final decision is made.”

Residents have until Sunday to make their objections to the diocesan registrar.

Speaking at Monday’s meeting, Ted Bagley, of Church Lane, said: “It is not the doing of a church to turn itself into a commercial operation.

“Everything I have heard about it has appeared to be with one thing in mind and that is to make money, which is the wrong way for a church to be acting.”

Mr Hill was unavailable to comment, but he told the Times Series last year: “I regard this as something of benefit to the community.

"This is an area of very poor mobile phone reception. There will be financial benefits which can be used for the church’s work.”