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Views sought on consultation: increasing the permitted development height for masts in protected and non-protected areas in England

Date: 14/8/2015

Government are considering increasing the permitted development height for masts in protected and non-protected areas in England and would like the views of planning departments across all regions.

As well as proposed increases to the PD heights of masts the review is asking for evidence on the effectiveness of the planning system and what further improvements should be made to support the deployment of mobile infrastructure in all areas. The government will review all contributions before takings its  next steps. They are specifically interested in feedback from the 2013 package of planning changes implemented in England to support the 4G rollout. Government are now calling for evidence of the effectiveness of those changes and the scope for further improvements to support delivery of the Governments ambitions for improved mobile coverage. 

It would be really useful if POS members could respond to this consultation on behalf of the POS region they cover as well as their own authority, this will help with the call for evidence and provide a good sample of responses from across England and Wales. You can respond direct to CLG by 21st August or email me your responses by Friday 18th August if this is easier and i will co-ordinate a response. A response is due by Monday 21st August and can be submitted electronically on survey monkey here or you can email a response to the questions below to

Experience of how the planning system currently works for mobile deployment

  • What is the success rate of planning applications submitted?
  • How often are applications subject to appeal and what percentage of appeals find in favour of the applicant?
  • Are there any particular forms of development for which it is routinely difficult to secure agreement?
  • Do these differ in urban and rural areas?
  • Are there processes adopted by some operators or local authorities that contribute to a smoother passage for planning applications or prior approval?

The effectiveness of telecommunications permitted development rights and the changes made in 2013:

  • Which of the new rights from 2013 have been used and how often?
  • How much additional or improved coverage has been provided as a result of these changes?
  • What steps have been taken to increase the sharing of infrastructure?
  • Are there circumstances where infrastructure could be provided under the new rights but it has not been, or only in low numbers, and if so why?

The operation of the Code of Best Practice:

  • Is best practice being widely secured?
  • Are parties adhering to the agreed code approaches?
  • Does the Code effectively address the circumstances that generally arise?
  • Are there other new issues that should be included?

The nature of the infrastructure required to deliver the 2017 target of 98% with access to 4G connectivity:

  • Are there planning applications for infrastructure that are routinely approved and would potentially benefit from a permitted development right, and if so, what benefits would that bring?
  • Are there changes to the existing permitted development rights, which would better support delivery of mobile connectivity including those rights applying to masts?
  • Would extending permitted development rights for taller masts better support delivery of mobile connectivity?
  • What is the evidence and what benefits would be delivered from any potential changes to mast heights?
  • What benefits would any new permitted right with a prior approval provide over a planning application, and what data supports this view?
  • What impact would any changes you suggest have on the levels of coverage in different areas? In particular, what additional coverage can be achieved by masts of different height? Could this reduce the number of masts needed overall?
  • How would changes help deliver the Government's Manifesto commitments on digital connectivity?

The benefits and impacts for communities of coverage and the effect of infrastructure on the landscape:

  • How do those who live in and visit more isolated locations benefit from the services that are considered essential, and can be extended in urban and suburban locations?
  • How would any new rights balance the benefits of connectivity with the value placed on protecting streetscape and landscape?
  • How could any new rights be targeted to focus on extending coverage?
  • What different approaches have been taken to mitigate the visual impact of infrastructure on landscape, and what has worked well?
  • Are there particular restrictions or conditions, which ought to apply if masts were to be given permitted development rights in protected areas e.g. restrict masts to near existing infrastructure (roads, railways, factories etc.) or should they be placed anywhere?
  • We recognise it is important to strike the right balance between supporting growth and safeguarding protected areas: these are both Manifesto commitments. What is the case for introducing permitted development rights for masts in protected areas?

The projected impact of technology on future mobile infrastructure requirements:

  • Are we planning sufficiently for the future as well as for current infrastructure needs?
  • How could we future proof any new permitted development rights?
  • Should planning approvals for infrastructure to support mobile connectivity be time- limited to encourage development of new technology?

Sara Whelan, Policy Manager, Planning Officers Society Email  

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