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Application No:  2008/1730

Ward/Area:            St ALPHEGE


Date Registered:      15/09/2008

Applicant:            TELEFONICA 02 UK LTD

                      AND EQUIPMENT CABINET.


The installation of telecommunications apparatus is provided for under Part 24
of Schedule 2 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted
Development) Order 1995, subject to conditions set out in paragraph A.3.
Amongst other criteria, paragraph A.3. requires a telecommunication operator
to apply to the Local Planning Authority for a determination as to whether the
prior approval of the authority will be required for the ‘siting and appearance’
of the development.

This proposal seeks prior approval for the replacement of an existing 15m
high telecommunications mast in the form of a replica telegraph pole with
replacement antennas contained within a GRP shroud and an additional
equipment cabinet. The replacement mast would be sited in the same
position as the existing mast which is located to the back of the footpath
adjoining a bus turning circle providing commuter transportation ‘to and from’
Widney Manor Park and Ride.

The proposed equipment cabinet, which would be located 1metre west of the
existing cabinet, would be 1.50m in width, 0.3m in depth and would have a
height of 1.5m. The equipment cabinet would be painted Green RAL 6009,
which would match the existing cabinet.


Highway Engineer                        : No objection

Neighbours Notified                     : 16/09/08, 19/09/08 & 29/09/08

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Site Notice                              : 19/09/08 & 30/09/08


At the time of writing the report 4 letters of neighbour letters have been
received. Comments made are summarised as follows: -

      Mast is an eyesore that should be erected away from residential
      Pole is clearly visible from house;
      There is plenty of green space on either side of Widney Manor Road
       and one side of Widney Lane;
      Council takes no notice of what residents say;
      Is talk of 3 trees to be removed to accommodate a crossing so mast
       would be very visible;
      Will power output be greater than at present?
      What will shroud antennas look like?
      Ugly large orange cabinet has been removed but what size will new
       cabinets be?
      Screening provided by trees does not take into account differences in
      Health concerns – long term health effects of this type of radiation are
       unknown and must still be considered a high risk;
      Mast visible from Ashbrook Crescent, increase in width would mean
       mast would be more visible in this street scene.
      Our property is within 100m of mast making it in the highest ‘RFI’ band
       – mast would unlikely to gain permission if it were sited within 200m of
       a school but it seems ok to build within 200m of a housing estate where
       numerous children live;
      Surely whilst upgrade is taking place mast could be re-located within
       the station boundary or elsewhere away from private properties; and
      Notification letter incorrectly states the mast to be on Widney Manor
       Road but it is on Widney Lane.


RPG11 – Regional Planning Guidance for the West Midlands (2004)

QE3 Creating a High Quality Environment for All

Solihull UDP (2006)

ENV2 Urban Design
ENV9 Telecommunications

Government Guidance

PPS1 Delivering Sustainable Development
PPG8 Telecommunications

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PPG13 Transport


None relevant


2006/1798 (Refused) [28th September 2006] Telecommunications: Installation
of a radio base station consisting of a 15 metre replica pole column
incorporating siz no. antennas, equipment cabinet and ancillary development
– Allowed on appeal (no. 3466)


The replacement mast and additional equipment cabinet would be located to
the back of the pavement and is sited just off Widney Lane on the approach to
Widney Manor train station. The immediate area is predominately residential
in character consisting of a mixture of properties with fields further to the
south and east.

The site lies on the southern side of Widney Lane within a wide footpath next
to the bus turning circle at the bottom of the station approach road. The area
has a range of existing street furniture including existing street columns, road
direction signs and two bus shelters.

The site falls outside of the designated West Midlands Green Belt, however,
its boundary lies along the railway line to the east of the application site.


          Background;
          Policy;
          Impact on street scene;
          Residential Amenity;
          Highway Considerations; and
          Health.



In 2006 an application for prior approval for telecommunications: Installation
of a radio base station consisting of a 15 metre replica pole column
incorporating six no. antennas, equipment cabinet and ancillary development
was reported to your Planning Sub-Committee on 27th September 2006 and
was refused for the following reasons:

   1. The proposed 15m high telecommunications mast and ancillary
      equipment is considered inappropriate in this location and would have

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         an overbearing impact on nearby residential properties. The proposal
         therefore conflicts with Policy ENV2 and ENV9 of the Solihull UDP
         (2006). For the above reasons the proposal does not comply with
         Policy ENV9 of the Solihull UDP (2006) and provisions contained within
         PPS1 Delivering Sustainable Development 2005, PPG8

   2. The proposed 15m high monopole would appear intrusive and
      incongruous within the street scene because of its excessive height
      which would be viewed above the existing deciduous tree canopy and
      above nearby street furniture. The proposal is therefore contrary to
      Policy ENV2 and Policy ENV9 of Solihull UDP (2006) and provisions
      contained within PPS1 Delivering Sustainable Development 2005,
      PPG8 Telecommunications.

This decision was challenged at appeal, which was allowed on 19 th March
2007. The Inspectors Appeal Decision is attached to this report, however, to
summarise, the Inspector concluded that the column and associated cabinet
equipment would not have a significant effect on the character and
appearance of the street scene or the living conditions of local residents in
terms of their outlook, and that the appellant has established a need for the
column to serve the area and that suitable alternative sites are not available.


PPG8 ‘Telecommunications’ aims to facilitate the growth of new and existing
telecommunications systems whilst ensuring that telecommunication
equipment has the least visual intrusion to its surroundings. To prevent the
proliferation of masts and equipment, PPG8 advocates the sharing of masts
and sites to ensure the optimum environmental solution is found. PPG8
continues that use should be made of existing buildings and other structures
before free-standing structures are proposed. Where free-standing structures
are required, operators should use sympathetic design and camouflage to
minimise the impact of development on the environment.

PPG8 advocates that the operator should undertake an assessment of need,
which should support any application to the local planning authority. In this
instance, the application seeks prior approval to remove the existing 15m high
mast in the form of a telegraph pole and erect a replacement 15m high mast
also in the form of a telegraph pole and an additional equipment cabinet. The
replacement mast would have a diameter 55mm wider than the existing mast.
Although the mast which was allowed at appeal was needed to improve both
2G and 3G coverage for Widney Manor residents and people using the
railway station the applicants advise that to date only the 2G coverage
element of the base station has been implement. The applicants Design,
Access and Supporting statement states that the changes are required to
allow the mast to upgrade the equipment to allow dual 2G/3G coverage.

Policy ENV9 of the Solihull UDP seeks to reiterate policy considerations
advocated by PPG8. Policy ENV9 seeks to resist telecommunication

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equipment that is located in or adjacent to sensitive locations, which may
include residential areas, education and health institutions, listed buildings,
conservation areas, archaeological sites, sites of ecological and geological
importance, historic parks and gardens, public open space and Green Belt. In
such areas, Policy ENV9 stipulates that development will only be permitted if
there is no other technically suitable location that both meets operational
requirements and causes less environmental harm, and any mast is at a
distance of at least twice its height from the nearest residential property.

Impact on street scene

The previous application for 15m high mast in the form of a telegraph pole
was refused by the Council as it was considered to appear intrusive and
incongruous within the street scene because of its excessive height which
would be viewed above existing deciduous trees and above existing street
furniture. The mast was subsequently allowed on appeal following the
Inspectors decision that the column would not appear out of place, bearing in
mind its location, with trees in front and behind, in a bus turning circle
adjoining the railway station and a main road, and would be acceptable in
respect of its visual impact on the character and appearance of the local
street scene. The one that was subsequently erected was only 275mm in
diameter rather than the 335mm that was applied for.

The mast the subject of this application would be positioned in the same
location as the one it is proposed to replace. It would be the same height as
the existing mast that was allowed on appeal and the antenna would also be
shrouded behind a brown wood effect GRP. The only differences are the
width of the pole, which would have a diameter of 330mm compared to the
275mm that has been erected and the installation of an additional cabinet
equipment cabinet, which would be painted green to match the existing
cabinet. The replacement mast would be able to support both 2G and 3G
antennas whereas the existing mast is only 2G compatible. It is important to
note that the mast that was allowed at appeal was the same diameter and
height as the current proposal. Whilst it could be argued that the mast could
be provided in the proposed form without the benefit of a further application
for prior approval, in view of the application being submitted, it would be
prudent to determine the application in the usual procedure.

The need to improve both 2G and 3G coverage in Widney Manor was
considered at the time of the appeal for the existing mast. Consideration had
then been given to alternative sites, which included the use of existing
buildings and structures and the sharing of other masts. The Inspector was
satisfied that existing masts at Monkspath Business Park and Manor Road
were not suitably located to provide the service needed. Seven alternative
sites were considered but for various reasons none were suitable or available
to accommodate the proposed facility. The Inspector was therefore satisfied
that the appellant had provided satisfactory evidence to show that there was a
need for the proposed antennae in the area and that they had investigated the
possibility of using alternative and preferable sites which had not proved

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Therefore, as the need to improve 2G and 3G coverage has already been
demonstrated and accepted at appeal in accordance with PPG8 to seek the
most environmentally optimum solution your officers consider a replacement
mast of the same height and form but 55mm wider than the mast erected to
be preferable to an additional mast in the vicinity. The applicants, in their
supporting statement state that the other alternative approach would be to
stack three additional 3G antennas above the existing antennas but this would
require a 2 – 2.5m increase in the overall height of the installation. The
increase in width would provide a more substantial column than is existing.
However, in view of the previous appeal decision and the location within the
bus turning circle, which is set back from Widney Lane itself and separated
from this road by a deep verge containing mature trees and in consideration
of the backdrop which is densely vegetated the proposal is not considered to
cause significant harm to the appearance of the streetscene over and above
the existing situation. The very top of the mast is visible from Ashbrook
Crescent however due to the distances involved and the dense vegetation
which separates the mast from this residential street the additional width is
unlikely to be harmful to this street scene.

The installation of one equipment cabinet in addition to the one existing is not
considered to be detrimental to this street scene. The cabinet would be
painted dark green to match the existing cabinet which your officers do not
consider to be intrusive within Widney Lane.

Therefore, your officers consider the proposed replacement mast to be in
accordance with Policy ENV2 and ENV9 of Solihull Unitary Development and
guidance PPG8 Telecommunications.

Residential Amenity

The application site falls within a predominantly residential area and the
previous application for 15m high mast in the form of a telegraph pole was
refused due to the overbearing impact on residential properties. Policy ENV9
Telecommunications of Solihull UDP states that any mast should be located
at a distance of at least twice its height from the nearest residential property.

The nearest residential accommodation at 5 Ashbrook Crescent which is
located 27.5m from the proposed mast which would be less than the
recommended separation distance as required by Policy ENV9. The Planning
Inspector in paragraph 10 of his decision letter, noted that although the mast
would not conform to the distance of twice the height from No. 5 Ashbrook
Crescent it would comply with this guide for the majority of houses around the
site. Furthermore, the Inspector was of the opinion that the harm to No. 5
Ashbrook Crescent would be strictly limited because most of the column
would be screened by trees between Widney Lane and Nos. 1, 3 & 5
Ashbrook Crescent.

The main issue to consider, therefore, is whether the increase in width would
significantly effect the living conditions of these residents in terms of their

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outlook. The inspector acknowledged that the pole that was allowed was
relatively slender and that with this in mind together with the screening and
unencumbered shape of the column he concluded the mast would have an
acceptable impact on the residents amenities. When viewed from Ashbrook
Close only the top section of the pole is visible due to the dense vegetation.
The antenna are currently concealed within a cylindrical wood effect shroud at
the upper most section which would continue to be the case for the proposed
replacement mast.

The existing pole would be increased in width by 55mm, however, the pole
that the Inspector considered at appeal was the same width as the proposed
replacement pole. Whilst a material change to the pole that currently exists
due to the dense screening and the distances between the site and the
residential properties the increased width is not considered to be significantly
more harmful to the outlook of these properties over and above the existing

The proposed replacement mast is, therefore, not considered to have a
detrimental impact on the outlook of nearby residential properties.

Highway Considerations

Your Highway Engineer has raised no objection to the proposal in relation to
the replacement mast or additional equipment cabinet, which would be both
set well back from the main Widney Lane junction and would be accessed via
the approach to station approach access road and via the bus only lane.

Your officers consider the proposal to be in accordance with PPG13


The proposal is in compliance with ICNIRP guidelines – the International
Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) for public
exposure. PPG8 states that if a proposed installation meets ICNIRP
guidelines, it should not be necessary for local planning authority to consider
matters of public health.

In this instance the applicants have provided a certificate indicating that the
proposed installation does fall within ICNIRP guidelines. The applicants have
also submitted a Health and Safety Statement in support of the proposal.

Health considerations and public concern can in principle be material
considerations in determining applications. Whether they are significant to the
determining of this application depends upon the weight that can be attached
to them, however, PPG8 is clear in advising that the planning system is not
the place for determining what measures are necessary to protect public

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In conclusion the replacement mast which is not considered to be significantly
more harmful to the visual amenity of the locality, amenities of neighbouring
properties or public safety than the existing mast.


For the reasons outlined above I recommend that prior approval be granted.

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