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West Berkshire Council rejects telecom masts – but more applications are in





Telecom companies are being forced to go through tougher planning processes for three more masts in West Berkshire following fierce local opposition.

Applications to avoid the full process have been refused by West Berkshire Council this week, on the grounds that they variously have a negative impact on the surrounding area, are the wrong colour, and are a danger to road safety.

Telecom masts plans have been knocked back at Turnpike Road and Stoney Lane and at New Hill in Purley.

West Berkshire Council's Market Street offices
West Berkshire Council's Market Street offices

Rejecting the 20 metre mast at the junction of Shaw Road and Kiln Road in Newbury, council planners said: “While there are existing street furniture in the area, the development of a 20m high mast would be a prominent addition to the area that would be visible in both short and longer views of the area.

"It will have detrimental impact on the character and appearance of Shaw Road and Crescent Conservation Area, and the setting of Shaw House and Church Conservation Area; as well as the setting of nearby listed buildings.”

But locals affected by the masts are not confident the council can ultimately stop the increased development of telecom masts.

Certain types of development are granted planning permission by national legislation without the need to submit a planning application. This is known as 'permitted development’.

One such condition on masts development is the need to submit an application to the local planning authority – in this case West Berkshire Council – for its 'prior approval'.

This allows the council to consider the proposals, their likely impacts and how these may be mitigated.

Changes to the law introduced by the government in April 2022 mean that telecoms operators can now install higher and broader 5G masts without council approval.

Masts that are installed on buildings outside of conservation areas and are less than six metres above the highest part of the building do not require full planning permission or prior approval by the council. The law gives operators planning permission as a ‘permitted development’.

The updated rules also increase the size of masts that are allowed under permitted development. This includes installing new masts of up to 30m in height above ground level on unprotected land, or 25m on protected land, such as land within a conservation area or site of special scientific interest.

“It makes a mockery of the planning rules and some of the recent applications that have been refused are minor compared with this monstrosity,” said Brian Withers.

“I am not usually the one to stand in the way of progress and somehow, I doubt that this letter will make one scrap of difference to the application as it seems to be drafted in such a way that West Berks Council have their hands tied and cannot refuse it. We already have one inappropriate tower in St John's Road, how many more will there be and is there not some control that our council can use?”

The prior approval for the installation of a new 15m monopole tower at the junction with New Hill, Purley-On-Thames had more than a dozen objections from people living on Clairmore Road.

The council rejected the application saying: “Due to the proximity and height of the telecommunications development it is considered that there would be a harmful overbearing impact on these properties.”

Resident Antony Walls was one of a dozen people who wrote in to object to the mast.

“I would also be concerned on the impact this would have on the resale value and cannot understand why no consultation has happened with the local residents, nursery and schools in close proximity, it would seem the position suggested was done purely on company profits and no real evidence has been given for other possible locations,” he said.

Meanwhile, H3G has submitted another new application this week for another mast in Purley village.

Three UK has submitted a request to see if prior approval is needed for another 18m mast in Ullswater Drive in Tilehurst.



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