A proposal for a 20-metre-tall temporary mobile phone tower in the historic inner city suburb of Reid was out of place and would damage the area’s heritage values, according to the National Trust of Australia (ACT).
Optus wants to install the tower for about 12 months while it finds a new permanent site to replace its facility at Customs House on Constitution Avenue, which it plans to decommission.
The telco says in its development application that the temporary tower to be sited in a corner of Reid Park near the cricket nets will ensure that Optus customers in the area are not without mobile phone services while a new permanent facility is sought.
It says that without the proposed temporary tower, customers may not be able to connect to the mobile network, calls may drop out, and they may experience reduced or no data speeds, longer download times and poor network performance at busy times of the day.
Optus also looked at the rooftop of the Canberra Centre as a location for the tower, but the operators would not agree to it.
But the ACT Government, which controls Reid Park, did.
The National Trust says in its submission on the DA that the tower would be installed in the Reid sports precinct, which falls within the heritage-listed Reid Housing Precinct.
Installing it there would be detrimental to the precinct’s longevity, overall character, and heritage, it says.
“The precinct exemplifies Canberra’s early planning influences stemming from the early 20th Century’s Garden City and City Beautiful movements … and is one of the few remaining areas within Canberra that aspires to preserve this unique character,” the Trust says.
It says the proposal is inconsistent with the Statement of Significance of the precinct’s heritage listing and urges its heritage value be considered as part of the assessment process, “in particular, the proposed installation’s impact on the overall aesthetics and interwoven social and historical aspects as recognised by the precinct’s listing”.
The Trust questions the proposed site, saying it is in direct line of sight from Ainslie Avenue, surrounding residences and the broader sports precinct.
It also expresses some doubt about the temporary nature of the proposal, saying the long-term sustainability of the precinct took priority over the installation of a “seemingly temporary” mobile telecommunications tower.
“The Trust strongly recommends that the placement of the proposed telecommunications tower be reconsidered and an alternative location be found outside of the precinct,” the submission says.
The Trust has requested that ACT Heritage be actively consulted during the proposal’s assessment.
Comment on the DA closed on 27 March.