Residents were left feeling angry and disappointed after plans to build a phone mast near two schools and a leisure centre were approved yesterday evening.

Mid Suffolk District Council, who have been the deciding authority on the plans, last night granted permission to Shared Access to construct the mast, despite many residents in the area protesting to the plans and launching both printed and online petitions.

The mast, which will benefit users of the O2 and Vodafone networks, will be built at the back of the Leisure Centre car park next to the playing field at Wood Ley Primary School, with Stowmarket High School near to both.

Reacting to the news on the community Facebook group, called ‘Residents Against 60 ft Mast at Mid Suffolk Leisure Centre Stowmarket,’ many residents spoke of their disbelief that MSDC would allow a mast to be built within a 500 metre radius of two schools, a leisure centre and residential area.

Many residents were also left feeling shocked after attending a planning committee meeting this week – in which the District Council and Shared Access noted that health concerns were not a legitimate planning objection.

This was despite earlier plans for the mast to be built near Chilton Primary School, among other considered sites, was overlooked because of fears that residents near that school would object.

Speaking to the Stowmarket Mercury and East Anglian Daily Times, Denise Askew, who set up the Facebook group, said: “I really thought because we had so many people [objecting and signing the petition] that they would listen to us.

“If [Shared Access] can’t say 100 per cent that the mast will not have an effect, especially on the children, we should not be treated as guinea pigs.

“In other countries, they would not build a mast within a 500 metre radius of where children regularly congregate.”

Following a long debate on the plans, the planning committee voted in favour of the mast – with five in favour, three against, and three abstentions.

It is thought the local residents are now investigating whether they have grounds to take legal action against the planning authorities.