A ROW has erupted over plans to build a 20-metre high mobile phone mast in a Test Valley village.

Some residents living around Lockerley Green were shocked to discover a letter outlining plans to build the mast on the green.

A pre-application letter from construction group, Galliford Try PLC, states the mast is needed to rollout "smart energy metering access" in areas where mobile signal is too weak for meters to work.

It could also give "improved coverage for voice and data services" to O2 customers, according to the letter.

Residents have now voiced their outrage over the proposals and claimed a hole was dug in the land for the mast in February.

One resident who lives in Lockerley Green, Liz Davies, revealed she was shocked to receive the letter outlining the plans, believing only three other houses were alerted to the proposals.

She said: "I was really quite shocked when it arrived about three weeks ago and the fact Galliford Try only contacted four households immediately made me and my husband, Cled, suspicious because it affects so many people.

"We saw them digging a hole in the green in February and I cannot tell you the shock it gave me, because we have a beautiful village green and this would be a horrendous eyesore."

The 62-year-old also questioned why an alternative site has not been suggested for the mast.

She added: "Obviously while all of this has kicked off there are some landowners who have appeared to offer sites, so I don't know why the company has gone to the green.

"It is ridiculous to think they could put it here."

A fellow resident, Peter Funnell, slammed the plans and said: "I recognise the drive to improve rural mobile communications, but placing a 20m phone mast on a village green, when there are other sites potentially available, defies belief.

"The fact that Galliford Try was prepared to dig up the green, apparently as part of a site survey, demonstrates they have little regard of the impact of the planned installation or the views of local people.

"Village greens are a precious asset and, once lost, they are gone forever."

Jason Dean, whose mum lives in Lockerley Green, said it "could not be a worse place" to put the mast.

The 50-year-old said: "Obviously I am against it, because I grew up there and it is just not the right place for it.

"I am not saying Lockerley doesn't need one, because the reception out there is appalling, but my mum's house is there and when she looks out of her kitchen it will be right there."

A spokesperson from Cornerstone, which Galliford Try is an agent for, defended the plans and insisted the mast will provide customers with better services. 

They said: "O2 customers expect to be able to use their mobiles and devices where they live, work and travel.

"Cornerstone, who manage O2’s planning applications, has proposed a new base station in Test Valley.

"The proposed base station is considered the best site available and will provide O2 customers with enhanced services and improve capacity locally."

Residents are invited to attend a parish meeting at 7.30pm on Monday (March 29) to voice their views on the proposals.

Lockerley Parish Council will host it on Zoom.