PLANNERS are scheduled to visit a site tomorrow (Friday) to decide if a mobile phone mast can be built near a special school.

Telecoms firm, O2, wants to install the 10-metre structure at Andover Road in Winchester.

Its preferred site is a section of pavement near the railway bridge and around 75 yards south of the Jolly Farmer pub.

The company submitted an application to Winchester City Council in September.

It prompted eight letters of objection from residents near the site. They argued that the mast would be ugly and might pose possible health risks.

Neighbours also pointed out that the mast would be less than 100 yards away from Osborne School, which caters for around 170 children with special needs.

Council highways experts also raised concerns about potential problems with repairing the mast.

They argued that maintenance engineers would take up most of the pavement, and force pedestrians to walk in the road.

With these concerns in mind, planning officers advised members to throw out the scheme.

Councillors were due to inspect the site in November, but O2 withdrew its application a couple of days before their meeting was due to occur.

A few days later, it submitted new plans to build a slightly thinner mast further back from the road.

Residents objected once again, with another four letters landing on the council's doormat.

However, on this occasion, the authority's highways experts stated that the plans were now acceptable.

Planning officers also backed the scheme, arguing that the mast would not be a visual intrusion.

They added that O2 had investigated if the structure could be built elsewhere, but no other alternative sites were available.

A planning sub-committee of around half a dozen councillors is now due to make the final ruling.

They are expected to reach a decision following their inspection of the site tomorrow morning.