Planning applications for telecommunications development in the borough.
- Planning Policy
- Factors considered when assessing proposals
- Health concerns
- Rollout plans and location of existing base stations
- Further information
The London Borough of Hillingdon is responsible for dealing with all applications for telecommunications development in the borough and working towards minimising the visual impacts of such development.
The majority of telecommunications applications dealt with in Hillingdon are for prior approval. These are smaller developments, such as new phone masts under 15m in height, which are classed as permitted development under Part 24 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 as amended, subject to detailed consideration of their siting and design. These applications must be determined within 56 days or they are automatically permitted.
Major telecommunications development (e.g. masts over 15m high), proposals in Conservation Areas, on Listed Buildings or on buildings/structures where there is already a significant amount of telecommunications development, require full planning permission and are dealt with in the same way as a normal planning application.
App planning applications and prior approval applications are determined by the Council's area planning committees.
Some minor development such as the erection of an additional equipment cabinet, additional dishes or antennas to an existing installation, the erection of some antennas on the roof a building, or very small installations are not subject to any planning control.
All applications for telecommunications development in this borough are assessed against policies Pt1.11 and BE37 of the Unitary Development Plan [6Mb], and Communities: Planning policy guidance note 8: Telecommunications.
When assessing telecommunications applications the most important factors which must be considered are the visual impact of any installation and whether the most appropriate site has been found. Officers will assess the design of a proposed installation, taking into account its size, height, the materials used and external appearance in order to ensure it has the least impact possible on the locality in which it is proposed. A range of sites within the mobile phone operators given search area will also be assessed in order to find the site which will have least impact on visual and residential amenity.
In the past some applications have been permitted where more appropriate, less sensitive Council owned sites have been unavailable due to the Council's moratorium against telecommunications development on its own land and property. This moratorium has recently been lifted following a review by a special Council Scrutiny Committee. This has enabled a wider range of sites to be considered when a new installation is proposed.
Publicity for applications is dealt with on a case-by-case basis, depending on the type of development proposed and the sensitivity of that development. For a new base station (phone mast) the Council will always erect a site notice adjacent to the application site and notify the local residents' associations, any other relevant local interest groups, nearby schools and local residents, by way of letter. For less sensitive developments (e.g. the addition of an antenna or dish to an existing installation) it may only be necessary to erect a site notice and notify any immediately adjoining neighbours.
Applications in Conservation Areas and on Listed Buildings are also advertised by way of press notice.
Health concerns are often one of the main concerns of objectors to proposed installations. The London Borough of Hillingdon follows the following Government advice on telecommunications developments as set out in Planning Policy Guidance Note 8:
"...the planning system is not the place for determining health safeguards. It remains central Government's responsibility to decide what measures are necessary to protect public health. In the Government's view, if a proposed development meets the ICNIRP (International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection) guidelines for public exposure, it should not be necessary for a local planning authority, in processing an application for planning permission or prior approval, to consider further the health aspects and concerns about them." [Paragraph 98]
As such, providing an application meets ICNIRP guidelines the Council cannot reasonably refuse an application on the basis of direct health grounds. This approach has been confirmed by numerous planning appeal decisions and in the courts.
Each autumn the five UK mobile phone network operators (currently 3, O2, Orange, T-Mobile and Vodafone) produce a joint annual network rollout plan which provides information on each operator's existing sites, approved but not yet built sites, and envisaged new proposals for the following 12 months. Rollout plans for 2006/7 and 2007/8 can be viewed at the following link. It should be noted that these plans are subject to change as the operators' network requirements change.
View the rollout plans for:
- Roll out plan 2006/7 [256kb]
- Roll out plan 2007/8 [265kb]
- Roll out plan 2008/9 [255kb]
- Roll out plan 2009/10 [2Mb]
- Roll out plan 2010/11 [1Mb]
The 'Sitefinder' website, which is maintained by Ofcom, provides a database of all existing telecommunications base stations and is a useful source for those wishing to find out more about existing installations in their area.
For further information relating to telecommunications planning within Hillingdon please contact the Planning Department.