A head teacher admitted she would find it difficult to hire staff after the council forgot to object to a controversial phone mast being built outside a Woolwich primary school.

Plans to build a phone mast on Sandbach Place next to Foxfield Primary School were met with anger from parents and teachers.

Rupinda Bansil, head teacher at Foxfield, said that teachers, parents and staff all sent letters of objection, and 45 objections were also submitted through the website.

She said: “We didn’t hear anything for six months so we just assumed it was not going ahead.

“Then this weekend we got messages on Facebook saying that they had started digging up the ground in Sandbach Place just outside the school.”

Telefonica and Vodafone submitted the planning application together and started work on May 13 despite the objections.

The planning application was submitted on September 30, 2016, and Greenwich Council had 56 days to decide on the application.

However due to “human error”, the council missed the deadline and Vodafone were able to start work on the phone mast.

In a letter to the council, Claire Rand from Foxfield said: “I am writing to you to convey our fear, concern and anger over this, not only is this very close to a large primary school, this is very close to family homes and retired residents, old people’s home and a children centre.

“Also I am sure that you agree that green space for our children should be protected and not damaged.

“We strongly object to this happening due to the possible harmful effects of exposure to low level electromagnetic fields.”

There are 720 children attending Foxfield in the primary school and the attached nursery, with 100 staff.

Ms Bansil is worried that she will even have difficulties hiring staff as she says they won’t want to work near a telegraph pole.

She said: “Staff have objected because they don’t want to work under it and parents don’t want their children to go to school near a telegraph pole.

“I have got serious concerns about the council that all these protections were pointless because they didn’t do what they were supposed to do.

“I can’t recruit teachers if they don’t want to work near a giant mast. We are also exposing young children to these health risks.”

A spokesman for Vodafone told News Shopper the company “do our utmost to liaise with local communities and we try to be as sympathetic as possible" but "with more mobile phone users clearly we need phone masts to support customers because mobile phones do not work without masts”.

A Greenwich Council spokesperson said: “Under the law, full planning permission is not required for this type of installation.

“Instead the applicant – Vodafone - made what is known as a ‘prior approval’ application. This means the Council can only look at the appearance and siting of the mast but cannot consider any other factors, such as health and safety concerns, when deciding the application.

“For the process, the Council had 56 days to decide the application. Due to human error, that deadline was missed, which means the application is deemed to be consented so the mast could be installed.

“The Council deals with over 4,000 planning applications per year, but nevertheless this error is extremely regrettable.

“The Planning Department apologises to the ward councillors and to residents who objected to the mast and both recognises and appreciates their concerns.

“We have taken measures to prevent such an error happening again and will keep local people informed on the issue.”