All you need to know about the new planning laws for telecoms development in England
by Will Osborne, Town and Country Planning Manager, and Samantha Gray, Community Relations Manager
You may recall in our last planning update we introduced some of the work undertaken by the Planning and Community Relations team at MBNL.
Since then, and following an extensive consultation, the Government has amended some of the planning legislation in England specifically relating to telecoms infrastructure development. The new legislation is set out in part 16 of the General Permitted Development Order (As Amended) 2015. Changes have been introduced to the Permitted Development Rights to further support the rollout of rural coverage and enhance the Mobile Network Operators’ (MNOs) ability to extend 4G coverage and deploy next generation 5G networks. The Government has also updated the Code of Practice for Wireless Network Development to provide a framework for both the MNOs and the Local Planning Authority to undertake appropriate consultations, and other robust guidance for all parties to follow when utilising the new legislation. You can view the published details of the new legislation here.
Below we have put together a summary of some of the key changes to specific site types:
Under the new legislation, rooftop sites now require a 28-day notification to the Local Planning Authority. Smaller masts up to 6 metres in height above the building can be installed in many areas without prior approval to help accelerate network upgrades and reduce the need to build new masts. To improve mobile coverage for road users, masts can be located closer to the edge of a building at a lower height. However, restrictions still apply to special locations such as Listed Buildings and World Heritage sites.
For freestanding masts, the legislation has raised the height limits from 25m to 30m for much of England, and from 20m to 25m for areas identified as being more sensitive. Such structures will now be regulated as Permitted Development, subject to prior approval by the Local Planning Authority. The benefit of increasing the height of a new or existing mast is to provide a broader coverage area, reducing the need to build multiple new sites.
Streetworks and monopoles:
Where telecoms equipment is located on the public highway, new legislation allows the replacement of these masts up to 20m with a notification instead of a planning application. Equipment cabinets can now be installed in protected land under a notification.
The new planning laws will mean fewer phone masts will be needed overall to level up the UK with improved connectivity. The ability to install equipment with just a notification will reduce the complexity of the deployment process and ultimately will help to speed up the extension of 4G and 5G coverage across the country. It will also provide greater certainty to both the MNOs and to site providers by mitigating the need for a lengthy planning process and the risk of planning refusals.
At MBNL we appreciate that our site provider community are key to improving connectivity and our agents will work closely with you to implement the new legislation and understand any implications. Working with local communities, the Local Planning Authority and of course our site providers will enable improvements to the end user and future proof connectivity for the UK as a whole.
As always, we welcome your comments or queries, and will be on hand to support you, and the communities surrounding our sites. You can get in touch by emailing Community.email@example.com
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