A BID to erect a mobile phone mast near the Oxford War Memorial in St Giles has come under fire.

Vodafone has submitted a planning application to erect the 12-metre mast at the north end of one of the country’s most historic and beautiful streets.

The news has outraged conservationists who say the proposal would damage a world famous streetscape and bring clutter to a prominent and sensitive landmark.

The war memorial is sited on a traffic island in front of St Giles Church, where Woodstock Road and Banbury Road meet.

Nicholas Purcell, a don at St John’s College, said when people learnt about the “brutally insensitive” application they would be outraged.

Mr Purcell, a history don based in nearby Wellington Place, said: “This streetscape is of high architectural significance, ranking with the High Street and Broad Street as an essential part of the internationally important urban environment of central Oxford.

“The greatest care was accordingly taken some years ago over the design of the lighting columns. The environment is already threatened by ugly signage. Additions to the street furniture must be rejected.”

Debbie Dance, director of Oxford Preservation Trust, said: “It is unthinkable that this will be allowed.

“St Giles is a wonderful Oxford space.

“The suggestion that there should be a telecom mast is a nonsense.”

Ilana Clark, a spokesman for Vodafone, said: “Our customers expect to be able to use their mobiles and devices where they live work and travel.

“Base stations are low- powered devices which only cover approximately half-a -mile in radius and therefore we have to put base stations close to our customers.

“We have identified that we need to improve the 3G coverage to our customers in Oxford and have proposed a base station on St Giles.

“To minimise visual intrusion the proposed structure is as short as possible and has a slimline design.”