Telstra phone tower plan angers Eureka Street residents

BALLARAT East’s rapidly growing population is resulting in the need for a new phone tower in the area.

But not everyone in the vicinity is happy about it, with one resident believing a proposed phone tower would spoil the historic aesthetics of the street.

Telstra says a new telecommunications facility proposed for Ballarat East is a response to the suburb’s population boom and visitor growth.

Area general manager Bill Mundy said the needs of the area were changing as extra traffic came through, homes went up and the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka (MADE) brought in more visitors.

But Eureka Street residents said they were “gob smacked” when they heard a phone tower had been earmarked for their heritage neighbourhood.

In a letter to about 200 surrounding residents this week, Telstra unveiled plans for a mobile telecommunications base station, including a 35-metre monopole, at 328 Eureka Street in Ballarat East.

Telstra would still need to apply for a City of Ballarat planning permit for the development and is seeking community feedback first.

“Our desire to build out there is a response to the growing demand for our services,” Mr Mundy said.

“It is putting more and more pressure on our infrastructure to provide a quality service and we need to be able to respond to that.”

Adding to the demand was the fact most homes no longer contained just one mobile, but an array of mobile devices.

But Angie Browning, a Eureka Street resident of 13 years, said she was afraid the tower would spoil the historic appeal the street and houses in the stockade precinct.

Ms Browning said it appeared the tower would go up between 100 to 200 metres from some Eureka Street homes.

“All the local residents will be horrified, because they’re proud of our street,” she said.

“We’re specifically doing up our house to blend with that. I think it will be detrimental to Ballarat East to have it there.”

Mr Mundy said it was unlikely to have much of a visual impact on top of the hill at Eureka Street but would be seen more in York and Joseph streets and surroundings areas.

He said Telstra had contacted residents to invite feedback as community consultation was a key part of the process.

The tower would be set within the grounds of a non-residential site with screening from factory buildings and an established treeline, information provided to residents shows.

Although able to give coverage to MADE, Telstra said there would be no visual impact when seen from the stockade.

rachel.afflick@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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