Police have been criticised by Hyndburn councillors after they put up the WRONG communications mast on the edge of a conservation area.
Plans for the controversial 80ft high mast at the former Accrington Police vehicle maintenance unit, on Grange Lane in Accrington, were given approval earlier this year.
However, Lancashire police bosses erected a different communications mast on the site, sparking six letters of objection and a 33-signature petition from local residents.
Police were then told by the council to submit a planning variation application to gain permission to retain the new mast - which is necessary to secure data and telecoms services.
The council’s planning committee approved the application, however, councillors on the planning committee questioned the police’s actions and said the original mast would look better in the area.
Speaking at a planning meeting last week, Coun Judith Addison said: “I find it rather strange that the police, who are supposed to be an example to us of upholding the law, have not complied with the conditions of the planning permission as to the type of mast that was to be erected.
“From the pictures we’ve been shown the slender, tapered mast which they should have put up is much more acceptable in the context of the conservation area than this more ugly structure that’s up now.
“If they are doing things and then applying for retrospective permission afterwards then it’s not really a good way of proceeding.”
Coun June Harrison added: “I think the original one was far, far better than what it is now and if they are going to be putting satellite dishes on it will look absolutely shocking. They haven’t complied with the planning conditions up to now.”
Coun Eamonn Higgins added: “They seem to be doing things and expecting permission retrospectively.”
Simon Prideux, chief planning officer, said the difference between the two masts is ‘fairly negligible’ and it would be ‘difficult to refuse on aesthetic or visual grounds’.
He told the meeting: “They put up the wrong mast, essentially. Unfortunately the mast that was erected does not have the same design as was approved and the applicant was therefore requested to submit an application to vary the condition to regularise the situation.
“A number of letters were also sent to the council which raised concerns about the development.”
A spokesman for Lancashire Police said: “We submitted plans in September 2015 for an 80ft communications mast at Accrington Police Station, which was later approved by Hyndburn Council.
“The work was awarded to a subcontractor who developed a detailed design for the project. The height is the same as our original plans but differs slightly in design.
“After being made aware of this, we immediately submitted an amended planning application to the council and this has also now been approved.”