PLANS for a phone mast in Littlemore have sparked fresh concerns from residents.

Two phone companies have launched an appeal after being refused permission to build a mobile phone mast in the area.

The 12.5m mast would be on land north of Heritage Gate in Sandy Lane West.

Vodafone and O2, the companies behind the application, say the mast is necessary to meet a demand for greater 3G coverage and the site would allow them to use the trees to disguise it.

But Oxford City Council refused permission for the mast, saying it would be too close to a school.

The Oxford Academy is also in Sandy Lane West.

Now the phone companies are appealing against the refusal.

A final decision on the proposal will be taken by a planning inspector appointed by the Government.

In their decision in July, city planners said “insufficient consideration had been given to alternative sites” or to the possibility of sharing masts with other operators.

Littlemore Parish Council has also objected, stating there is a “saturation of masts” in the area as there is another mast 200m away, and cited health concerns.

In December last year, Vodafone and O2 applied to put a 12.5m phone mast in another part of Littlemore.

Dorian Hancock, a member of the parish council, said: “It doesn’t surprise me they are appealing. The opposition is based on great concern about these phone masts and not Nimbyism, particularly if it could negatively affect housing and a school.”

Residents opposed the plan to put a phone mast on a grassy area between Newman Road and Cowley Road fearing it would “tower over the area”.

The plan was withdrawn after the city council suggested another location would be preferable.

A second application, put in by joint venture company Cornerstone on behalf of Vodafone and O2, for the land in Sandy Lane West, was then submitted but was turned down.

Cornerstone spokesman Rob Matthews said: “We were disappointed that the council refused the application after they had encouraged us to consider a site at this location.

“We do not take the decision to appeal a refusal lightly but, after making a thorough review of the available sites in the area, and the reasons for the refusal from Oxford City Council, we have concluded that the current proposal is the best site.”

Last night The Oxford Academy was unavailable for comment.

Anyone wishing to comment on the application can do so by contacting the Planning Inspectorate by Tuesday, January 24.