PARENTS and residents were delighted this week when Vodafone was refused permission to put up a mobile phone mast close to a Salisbury primary school.

District council officials used delegated powers to reject the 40ft high mast because it would be a visual intrusion on the street scene in the conservation area around the listed St Osmund's School in Exeter Street.

More than 100 letters of objection had been sent in to the council, whose city area committee had been expected to consider the application early next month.

Among those objecting were the Roman Catholic school's governors.

They spoke of the "grave concern" felt by teachers and pupils' families that the mast, on the verge just off the Exeter Street roundabout at Churchill Way South, would be only 55 metres from classrooms used by six and seven-year-olds, and only slightly further from the independent St Osmund's Pre-school.

Although the official view is that masts pose no health risk, they said parents were "worried for their children", who were "picking up on their parents' concern", which in itself could have a harmful effect on them.

They pointed out that the mast would also be just 50 metres from the medieval Close wall, and would obstruct views of the Cathedral, blighting the southern gateway to the city.

Nick Cusack, chairman of the governors, called the decision "a move in the right direction".

However, he added: "We are not celebrating yet by any means. We are anticipating an appeal, so we will remain vigilant until we know that there is categorically no way the mast will go there."

City area committee chairman Ian Tomes, who had been expecting hordes of protesters at his next meeting, said: "Many residents and parents in the area will be very relieved by this decision."