Both Hampshire Constabulary and Admiral Lord Nelson School wrote to the council warning that the equipment required to run the mast could be used to climb over the fence and into the school’s grounds.
But council planners said they did not have powers to consider the issue and approved the Cignal Infrastructure UK scheme.
“Although outside a school, it is not considered there is any reason in principle to resist the proposed equipment at this location,” the council’s assessment said. “The proposed site option is considered the best available compromise between extending 5G service across the target ‘coverage hole’ with the selected street works pole height and associated antenna and ground-based cabinets restricted to the minimum height which is capable of providing the required essential coverage.”
It added: “The equipment cabinets are located at the base of the new pole and because the site is not located in [protected] land, such installations of single developments of radio equipment housing…are permitted without prior approval and therefore do not require the consent of the local planning authority.”
The application was submitted in July with Cignal Infrastructure saying there were no suitable alternative sites to provide 5G connections in the area.
“There is an acute need for a new base station to provide effective service coverage and in this case, the height of the proposed street pole is the minimum required to bring the benefits of 5G to this area,” it said. “The proposed site option is considered the best available compromise between extending 5G service across the target ‘coverage hole’.”
The school said it had “serious concerns” that it would help people climb into its grounds while also restricting teachers’ views of pupils and narrowing the pavement.
“The safety of our students is paramount and we must object to any action that increases the risk to students when accessing or leaving the school site,” the objection submitted by Robin Parr said.
These concerns were echoed by Stuart York, Hampshire police’s designing out crime officer, in an email sent to the council last month.
“The proposed position of the equipment will obscure natural surveillance of the public realm from within the school at that point,” he said. “How that might impact the school’s safeguarding or health and safety responsibilities I cannot say.
“During the past year there have been a number of reports of young people on the site whilst the school is closed. In my opinion, in the proposed position, the equipment could be used to aid climbing over the perimeter fence.”
Eleven letters of objection were submitted, including from Copnor ward councillor Benedict Swann who described the chosen site as “illogical and short-sighted”. However, eight of these objections were sent by people living outside Portsmouth who largely focused on perceived health risks which have been debunked by experts.