A telecoms mast

There are about 74 million mobile phones in use in the UK today compared to 9 million nine years ago - that's more than one phone for every person.

Many people have a work and a personal mobile, or a mobile and a laptop data card, and mobile phones are used in at least 85 per cent of all households.

This large number of mobile phones cannot work without the network equipment and, most importantly masts must be placed close to where people use their phones.


Telecommunications Rollout Plan 2014/15

The Telecommunications Rollout Plan is a strategic document that sets out areas in which the telecom operators are seeking to increase their network coverage in the Borough. This document provides a list of information on the type of development, its location, the type of application and the date of decision. It is updated annually.

If you have any enquiries on the Rollout Plan, please contact Planning Policy or alternatively you can write to us at:
Planning & Regeneration, Town Hall, PO Box 2, High Road, Ilford, Essex, IG1 1DD.

Furthermore, the Office of Communications (Ofcom) provides information on the location of telecommunications base stations throughout the country.


Maps of potential mast locations

The Council has compiled a series of maps that display where the locations of sites are in the telecommunications Rollout plan which are available below:


Policies, guidelines and the planning process

Locally, applications are assessed against Local Development Framework (LDF) policy E6 in the Borough Wide Primary Policies Development Plan Document.

However, not all telecommunication development requires a planning application. Phone masts will normally fall within one of three categories:

  1. Permitted Development (ie; no permission or notice required to be served on Local Authority)
  2. Permitted Development that requires prior approval (by the Local Authority)
  3. Development that requires an application for planning permission and/or listed building consent - made to the Local Authority.

The General Permitted Development Order (1995) provides the definitive requirements of what is permitted development, but in general if the proposed development meets the following criteria then planning permission is not required:

a) less than 15 metres tall and based on the ground, or
b) less than 10 metres tall if located on a building which itself is less than 30 metres tall

If the development falls within the second category, where a telecom development is categorised as permitted development that requires prior approval, the Council has:

  • 56 days to decide whether a full planning application is needed. If a decision is not made in this time frame, it is deemed that approval is granted.

In the third category, where the development requires planning permission and includes proposals in Conservation Areas:

  • the proposal will be determined just like any other planning application and a decision is usually made within 8 weeks of the application date.

In both the second and third category, the consultation process is similar and involves a site notice and letters to local residents. This gives concerned parties an opportunity to express their views to the Council.

Despite sometimes not needing planning permission, all telecom development must be built in accordance with International Commission for Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) public exposure guidelines. These health issues are addressed below in health.

For greater information on this process it is best to consult the Code of Best Practice 2013, it also contains information on many other telecom matters.


Masts and health

Health risks, or even fear of possible health risks are valid considerations when the Council considers planning applications.

However, the National Planning Policy Framework (March 2012) Paragraph 46 states 'Local Planning Authorities must determine applications on planning grounds. They should not seek to prevent competition between different operators, question the need for the telecommunications system, or determine health safeguards if the proposal meets International Commission guidelines for public exposure."

Therefore, where a mobile phone mast installation meets the ICNRP guidelines this Council cannot refuse permission. If it does it would be difficult to argue this case at appeal.

The Department of Health (see bottom of page for useful website links) has published a few helpful leaflets on the impact of mobile phones and telecom base stations.

Contact us

Planning Policy

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