Plans for the construction of a new 15m telephone mast have been rejected after it was found that members of the public were not given the chance to respond to proposals.

At last night’s planning subcommittee meeting of Epping Forest District Council at Roding Valley High School in Loughton, councillors considered an application by Telephonica UK for a telecommunications mast to be erected on land to the front of Shrubs and Tubs Garden Centre in High Road, Chigwell.

The application, which did not require formal planning permission due to its relatively low height, had been recommended for approval in a report written after only two days of a 21 day consultation period.

In the council report, it was claimed that the mast would improve mobile phone reception and provide 4G internet in the area, which includes Chigwell Tube station.

But in order to decide on the application before a 55-day deadline, the plan was considered last night using the report without any written responses from the public or Parish Council.

Amid concerns the plans were being rushed through, councillors voted to refuse the plans due to possible detriment to the area surrounding the site on Chigwell High Road.

Cllr Brian Sandler said: “I am surprised to see this application this evening because it has not even been before the local parish council, it is on the agenda for tomorrow night’s meeting.

“I think it is rather bad that it is being rushed through so quickly, and I do not understand the reasons for it.”

He added: “I would like to assure everybody that everything referred to EFDC will have a full hearing and does not automatically get consent.”

Plans for a similar phone mast from Telephonica were recently met with significant public opposition in Buckhurst Hill over health concerns.

Jackie Holmes of Buckhurst Way protested against the plan saying that it had been made in an “underhand way” with the public notice rolled up and taped to a lamppost.

She said: “It is happening everywhere. We have got big open spaces around, why do they not stick them there?”