What goes on behind the National Planning scene

by Will Osborne, Town and Country Planning Manager, and Samantha Gray, Community Relations Manager

In the UK, National Planning Regulation is a devolved function, which means that England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all have different legislations and differing local authorities for managing their planning matters. Mobile infrastructure installations are located far and wide across the country – in the centre of towns or cities, in conservation areas, on listed buildings and in designated areas such as national parks. A single installation at any given location provides coverage to a wider area and benefits the entire surrounding community. Regardless of the location, appropriate planning consent has to be obtained from the relevant planning authority before the installation progresses.
At MBNL, our in-house Planning Team provide guidance and advice to both our internal teams and our external partners on all planning matters including site identification and design, planning applications and industry consultations. The Planning Team also undertake engagement with various key stakeholders involved in the planning process, such as Government, Local Authorities, elected representatives, local communities, and the media.

When a new site is proposed, MBNL’s appointed agent follows MBNL’s guidance and processes to start engagement with the planning authority and to prepare the necessary applications. The level of consultation varies depending upon the location. As an example, sensitive locations such as conservation areas, listed buildings and national parks require a more thorough engagement plan and include multiple stakeholders.

The UK’s Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) have access to certain Permitted Development Rights (PDRs) set out in legislation for each of the devolved nations.  PDRs involve minor forms of development and the process is usually through a simple notification to the planning authority.  In many cases PDRs allow the MNOs to install equipment without the need for a formal application.

At MBNL, we adopt an open and transparent  approach to our planning applications and follow closely the principles of Ofcom’s Electronic Communications Code – Code of Practice in all communications when our applications are being considered.  We take pride in our engagement activities where our team often go the extra mile to ensure our site providers and other key stakeholders are informed and heard throughout the process, and any concerns from the general public are addressed.

MBNL are committed to continuing to work closely with central government, the devolved authorities and our site provider community to deliver world-class mobile connectivity infrastructure to benefit the whole country.

Our Planning Team are on hand to answer any questions or concerns you may have and can be reached at community.relations@mbnl.co.uk