The statement confirms that where a site is already used for telecommunications infrastructure, we will extend permitted development rights to allow taller ground based masts to be built. The threshold for new ground based masts will increase from 15 metres to 25 metres in non-protected areas and a new permitted development right allowing new masts of up to 20 metres will be introduced in protected areas. To ensure that there is appropriate community engagement a prior approval will apply where a new mast is being built, meaning consideration will always be given to how to minimise the visual impact of masts.
Operators will also be able to increase the height of existing masts to 20 metres in both non-protected and protected areas without prior approval; between 20 metres and 25 metres in non-protected areas with a prior approval; and have a new automatic right to upgrade the infrastructure on their masts in protected areas to align with existing rights in non-protected areas. There will be a height restriction of 20 metres on highways and residential areas to accommodate vehicle lines of sight and pedestrian access.
In addition, we will lift restrictions on the number of antennae allowed on structures above 30 metres, while removing the prior approval requirement for individual antenna greater than 6 metres in height in non-protected areas and for 2 small cell antenna on residential premises in both non-protected and protected areas as the visual impact is limited.
We will also grant rights so small cell antenna on residential and commercial premises can face highways, and increase from 6 to 18 months the right for operators to be able to install emergency moveable transmission equipment.
To complement these changes, we will work with the industry and interested parties to strengthen the sector-owned Code of Practice to ensure best practice is always applied when it comes to the siting and design of mobile infrastructure.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport will be consulting key stakeholders for 6 weeks commencing 17 March on changes to the Electronic Communications Code (Conditions and Restrictions) Regulations 2003 to complement planning legislation. These changes will apply to the whole of the UK.
The Code regulations deal with the operational aspects of the way in which telecoms operators exercise their permitted development rights and include requirements to consult with planning authorities. These requirements will be revised to ensure that there is consistency in how operators consult planning authorities where there is no prior approval.
It is intended that the planning changes will come into effect from summer 2016 and will apply to England only. The changes to the Code regulations will apply throughout the United Kingdom, as telecommunications is a reserved matter, and will also commence in summer 2016.
Date: Summer 2016 When changes are intended to come into effect
Author: Minister of State for Housing and Planning
This item updates DCP section 28.11