Residents’ anger over ‘smelly’ 30ft-tall Openreach pole outside their homes in Oldham
Residents of a quiet street have reacted with fury after a telecoms company erected a 30-foot (9m) high “smelly” pole right in front of their homes.
Sophie Johnson, 29, was shocked to find that Openreach had mounted the massive mast next to her house after coming back from work yesterday (21 June).
She said residents on Link Road, Oldham, first learned about the plans to put up the beam two months ago, when a notice appeared on a nearby lamppost.
And although six families put forward objections, they claim they received no feedback from the company before it went up without warning.
Those now living closest to the mast - which the company says will strengthen local broadband speeds - now fear it will hit the values of their £325,000 homes.
And worse still, Sophie said the pole has been coasted in a black tar-like substance that “absolutely reeks” and wafts into her home when she opens her windows.
She said: “It stinks. It absolutely wreaks. It’s an odd smell – and it’s awful. You can smell it in my house when I’ve got the windows open.
“It’s like tar but a bit fouler than that, and they’ve painted it all over this pole.”
Her next-door neighbour Julia Withall, 55, added: “It has now ruined the view. We’ve spent such a lot putting an extension on, and the pole is visible in every window now.”
“We’ve just had our house valued at £325,000. But I reckon if somebody came to view it now they would be put off by the pole. I’d be put off by that.”
Sophie, who works as a procurement administrator in a construction firm, said locals had jointly objected to the plans for the pole when they were raised a few months ago.
She said: “A note appeared on a lamppost about putting this pole up, and me and the surrounding houses where the pole was going to be, we all objected to Open Reach.
“We were expecting another letter coming back saying you can have a consultation or something, but next thing I knew, I came home to find it had been put up.”
Sophie said the pole had ruined her front-facing views of famed beauty spot Hartshead Pike hill, and she had concerns about how it might affect house prices in the future.
She said: “I’m worried about the value because before we had a lovely view of the hills and Hartshead Pike and now that’s been blocked by this pole that’s been plonked there.
“Everyone on the street looks after their garden and helps with the general upkeep of the place, and then you’ve just got that in the way.”
Her neighbour Julia, who recently completed an extention to her property, shared her fears about the pole decreasing her home’s values.
She said: “It’s right in front of our house, and every window in the front our house, the pole is in front of it.
“We’ve got a sitting room upstairs - like a snug - and we’ve got a skylight up there, and you can even see it through the skylight.”
“I’d never buy a house under a pylon or anywhere near a pylon.”
She added: “I’d rather they just took it away. There’s got to be other places they can put it - not right in front of somebody’s house!”
What has Openreach said?
An Openreach spokesperson said the mast was installed as part of an upgrade to broadband services in the local area and claimed it was “legally sited”.
They said: “We’re building a new, full-fibre network across Oldham to give residents access to gigabit-capable broadband.
“This ultra-fast, ultra-reliable technology will bring huge benefits to local families and businesses - and boost the local economy.
“The new network already passes more than 10,000 Oldham homes and businesses, who can now order some of the UK’s fastest, most reliable broadband from their chosen provider, and work continues on the ground.
“Wherever we can, we use our existing duct-and-pole network to avoid digging and disruption.
“But in order to include some properties in the upgrade, we may need to carry out roadworks or put up new poles.
“We strive to select and site our infrastructure sensitively, balancing this with the need to meet local broadband demand.
“Poles need to be in the right place to provide internet, TV and other services to properties, must avoid other underground services like gas and water pipes and drainage, and meet regulations on space left on the pavement for pedestrians, cyclists and prams.
“All network providers follow a statutory process to install telecoms infrastructure on public land.
“We give local authorities 28 days’ notice before we put up poles and liaise with them if they raise any concerns about planned installations.
“The correct process was followed for the erection of this pole, and it is legally sited on the public highway.”
An Oldham Council spokesperson also confirmed that under the current regulations, the pole did not require any planning permission.
They said: “This pole is a permitted development, meaning Openreach did not require planning permission or consent from us, as the local authority, to erect this.
“However, we did notify this publicly via our Public Access system.
“While we do appreciate the concerns raised by local residents on this matter, we would advise them to contact Openreach directly.”