Mast approved following prior approval debate

A telecommunications company has succeeded in quashing an enforcement notice requiring the removal of a mast from a road junction in Kent, despite failing to persuade an inspector that the council had made a procedural error in handling the case.

The company claimed the council had not issued a decision on whether prior approval was needed within 56 days, as prescribed under part 24, schedule 2 of the General Permitted Development Order 1995. It argued that the process involved two distinct sequential stages - the first requiring the planning authority to confirm that prior approval was required, the second confirming that such approval was granted or withheld.

The council argued that a refusal of prior approval must by definition imply that such approval is required. After analysing the terms of part 24, and in particular paragraph A.3(7), the inspector agreed that the council did not need to confirm that prior approval was required and then issue a second decision stating whether approval was confirmed or refused.

On the planning merits, the inspector found that, although the mast was wider and higher than the surrounding lampposts, it was not out of place in an urban environment and would not harm residents' outlook. As no better alternative sites were available, he concluded that permission was justified.

Inspector: Simon Hand; Inquiry

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