Operator wins argument over mast definition

An inspector has quashed enforcement notices requiring the removal of telecommunications equipment from a building in Cambridgeshire, finding that it is permitted development.

The structure contained shrouded antennae and was attached to the side of a building. The appeal turned on whether or not it constituted a mast. If it was a mast, the council argued, it would not be permitted development under class A.1(k), part 24, schedule 2 of the General Permitted Development Order 1995 because it would be less than 20 metres from a highway.

However, the appellants claimed that the structure was not a mast but a flagpole with integral antennae. They asserted that it was permitted development because it fell within the limitation set out in class A.1(g)(i). Under this provision, the 20-metre restriction only applies where equipment is located on a wall facing a road.

The inspector considered the definition of a mast in part 24, the Code of Best Practice on Mobile Phone Network Development and the Concise Oxford English Dictionary. The common theme from these sources, he decided, is that a mast is generally a structure rising from the ground or other surface whose principal function is to obtain height rather than to be functionally operational.

The appellants confirmed that the type of equipment involved would rarely, if ever, be deployed on a ground-based pole and was not designed to be free-standing. In this light, the inspector considered that no part of the equipment constituted a mast and the structure was therefore permitted under class A.1(g)(1).

Inspector: Brian Cook; Written representations

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