Two mobile phone companies have won permission to install a mast directly outside a car showroom, despite fears it could have an adverse effect on the business.

Telefonica O2 Ltd and Vodafone submitted plans for the 17.1m high mast on the corner of Caxton Way and Greenhill Crescent, in front of the Palmers car dealership.

This would be a permanent replacement for a 25m high Vodafone-only mast at 25 Greenhill Crescent and allow two sets of antennas, one for each operator.

At Watford Borough Council's development control committee tonight (Thursday), however, Neil Cripps, finance director at Palmers, spoke against the proposal.

He said the mast would “impact on the presentation of the site, which will have an impact on the success of the site”.

“It's quite simple,” he said. “The presentation equals profit equals success. I'm concerned customers may be deterred from entering the site, which will impact on business.

“I don't understand why the current mast cannot be replaced.”

Mr Cripps added that employees were concerned about the health implications of the mast outside the showroom.

Following a short debate, members of the committee approved the plans but said Palmers and the mobile phone companies should talk about the possible relocation of the mast.

Councillor George Derbyshire said: “There's always a degree of concern when there's a proposal to put up a mast for people either working or living in the area.

“If they have not had a mast before, it's understandable they would prefer not to have one in the future.

“In the area in which I live, there are two masts in front of the Essex Arms pub and I have got to say, my experience is the location of the masts in that place doesn't appear to have affected the trade of the pub so I think it's unlikely this will affect the trade of the showroom.”

Councillor Steve Johnson suggested a decision be deferred until the applicants can speak to Palmers, but committee chairman Councillor Rabi Martins said to defer it would be “inappropriate”.

The application was approved by a majority vote.

Earlier in the evening, plans for a second, 19.8m high mast for the same companies, adjacent to The Avenue car park opposite 3-5 Hyde Road, were approved unanimously.