Clarke Telecom Radio Mast proposal - communication with Planning Officer
I am just emailing regarding PA23/02464 and also in response to an email received by .......... regarding this application.
Prior notification of proposed development by telecommunications code systems operators for telecommunication equipment and cabinets.
CK Hutchinson Networks (UK) Ltd
Thank you for the Parish Council response to the above proposal which I have set out below:
“Landrake with St Erney Parish Council OBJECTS to this application for the following reasons :
ROAD SAFETY the site is adjacent to the A38 and will be a distraction for drivers and also at risk of a strike from an errant vehicle. This stretch of the A38 is a notoriously dangerous one, and the location in question is also potentially needed for road safety improvements by National Highways as part of the A38 Carkeel to Trerulefoot Safety Package.
SAFETY the site is far too close to the nearest houses in Geffery Close, and also to the A38 itself and the road into Landrake from the A38. If the mast were to fall, it would cause significant damage and potentially fatalities.
VISUAL IMPACT the mast will be an eyesore at the entrance to the village (where significant community efforts have been made to improve the entrance), and just outside ( within 15 metres ) of the Landrake Conservation Area. The mast is totally out of character with the entrance to a traditional Cornish village, and it is incapable of being camouflaged.
2. LACK OF CONSULTATION
Given the significant objections from parishioners to PA23/00259 for an almost identical radio mast construction on the same site, (73 written objections to Cornwall Council and a petition signed by 226 people) the Parish Council sought a meeting in March 2023 with Clarke Telecom to attempt to discuss and propose alternative sites for the mast where it could meet the technical requirements in a suitable location. It was not possible to arrange this meeting (Clarke and their client were unavailable). It is disappointing that the Applicant has not sought to engage with the Parish Council to seek an alternative site before submitting another planning application for the same site. By engage, we mean a constructive dialogue to find an alternative site, not a letter which reiterates the Applicants wish to place the mast at the same location as PA23/00259.
3. ALTERNATIVE SITES
The Parish Council has proposed various alternative sites on Pound Hill (please refer to attached plan). These sites are close to the village centre and on higher ground so in the opinion of the Parish Council are suitable alternatives to the one proposed by the Applicant. This would of course be subject to some agreement with landowners, but there is precedent within the Parish for the telecoms companies agreeing terms with landowners for suitable sites (eg Frenchmans Lane).
Clarke Telecom have proposed two alternative sites at Quarry Lane just within the Tamar Valley AONB (to place this in context, the sites are approx. 20-30 metres within the AONB in an otherwise unremarkable location on an agricultural field). No technical reason has been given by the Applicant why these sites cannot be used having proposed them, the Applicant rules them out on the basis that they are in the AONB. If the other sites suggested by the Parish Council cannot be taken forward, we would request that Clarke and their client explore the sites they have proposed within the AONB as a location for the mast.
4. LOCAL OBJECTIONS TO PREVIOUS ALMOST IDENTICAL PROPOSAL
The applicant withdrew PA23/00259, which had been objected to by 73 local residents , Highways and the Parish Council. The only substantive difference between this application and the previous one is a reduction in height of the mast by 2 metres (10%). It is the opinion of the Parish Council that the same objections would remain valid for this application and should be considered by Cornwall Council (because all of the objections relate to the location of the mast). By withdrawing and resubmitting the application, it means that those 73 people will have to log on again to Cornwall Council to object again to substantially the same proposal. The Parish council requests Cornwall Council to take these objections to PA23/00259 into account in considering this application on the basis that the planning considerations for the location and the issues related to the location are exactly the same as before. A file is attached showing the comments.
The Parish Council OBJECTS to the location of the radio mast in PA23/02464 for the reasons above. The Parish Council would welcome the installation of a 5G mast in an appropriate location and has made various suggestions to the Applicant, who has not as yet agreed to meet with us to discuss the location. The Parish Council would support the installation of the mast at either of the sites in Quarry Lane, (which have been proposed by the applicant) in the event that the other sites we have suggested are unsuitable from a technical perspective or the Applicant is unable to secure the sites. In these circumstances we would request the Tamar Valley AONB to look favourably on such a location, were an application to be submitted in the future.”
Since receiving your consultation response I have been assessing the application and unfortunately with these types of prior approval applications we can only assess the development against the relevant criteria of the General Permitted Development Order (GPDO), which in this instance is Class A, Part 16 of Schedule 2 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (as amended). As such, certain material planning considerations which may usually apply and be assessed in planning applications do not apply to these prior approval applications. When following this set criteria of the GPDO, it is found that the development meets the limitations of this permitted development. With regard to this assessment, it does note that the siting and appearance of the development must be such that the visual impacts of it are minimised so far as practicable. Therefore this element of the proposal must be assessed.
In reference to this, the site of the proposal is outside of any landscape designations. However, landscape conservation is still important as outlined within policy 23 of the Cornwall Local Plan. It should also be noted that the proposed site of the development lies just to the north of the Landrake Conservation Area, approximately 290m to the west of the Tamar Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and there are a number of listed buildings within the wider setting. Due to the height of the proposed monopole this development may be seen within the setting of these designated areas/buildings.
The proposed cabinets are minor in scale and would not rise over 1.8m from ground level and as such it is considered that this element of the development would have a very minimal visual impact. With regard to the proposed 18m high monopole, it is clear that this would be far more visible in the immediate and surrounding environment and therefore would result in a degree of visual impact to the area. However, there is generally a mixed character of development within this area, with the site being located adjacent to the A38. Due to this the development would sit alongside and be within the setting of existing highway infrastructure and street furniture, and in particular is located very close to the existing bridge across this highway. Further on from this, the proposed development as a whole occupies a small footprint and profile, offering a slimline appearance in this built-up area.
It is stated that the development will ensure that the latest high quality 3G and 4G service provision is provided in this area and will also offer new 5G coverage at this location. Therefore it would enhance communication facilities to meet current and future demand as well as generating other socio-economic benefits. These benefits of the proposal are acknowledged and attract significant weight.
Given the slimline design of the monopole and the location of the development outside of any landscape designations and next to the existing highway infrastructure/street furniture, it is felt that the siting and appearance of the proposed development would not result in significant visual harm to this area, nor the setting, or significance of the Landrake Conservation Area, Tamar Valley AONB and the surrounding listed buildings. Within the ‘Supplementary Information’ document submitted it has been set out why this design for the development was chosen, as well as addressing a number of alternative sites and why these are not feasible/have not been chosen. It is apparent from this document that the proposed site is the most viable location for this development which would have the least visual impacts. Additionally, the slimmest monopole design has been chosen which will still enable all the multi technologies to be supported from this site. Hence it is considered that the visual impact of the development on these sites and the surrounding area has been minimised so far as practicable.
It is still acknowledged that this development will result in a level of visual harm to the area, however in weighing the harm against the benefits and the need for the installation to be sited as proposed, it is concluded that these would outweigh the limited harm that would be caused to the heritage assets and the character and appearance of the area.
Given this, and the assessment being limited to the criteria of Class A of Part 16 of Schedule 2 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (as amended), it is considered that the development meets this criteria and therefore prior approval is allowed.
I have further addressed each of your points of objection below:
• Road safety objections due to the site being adjacent to the A38.
Response: National Highways were consulted and considered that a condition and informative could be imposed in order to ensure the development does not adversely impact on the safe and efficient operation of the A38 trunk road. These have been added accordingly and therefore these issues have been addressed.
• Safety concerns through damage and fatalities that could be caused if monopole was to fall.
Response: The development would need to be built to a certain standard and this is not assessed through planning applications nor the prior approval criteria as set out within Class A, Part 16 of Schedule 2 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (as amended). Therefore the impacts of the development if it were to fall cannot be considered and therefore have not been assessed with this application.
• The visual impacts of the development on the entrance of the village and the Landrake Conservation Area.
Response: The visual impacts of the development have been assessed in the main body of the report and it is considered that the siting and appearance of the development is acceptable in this location. Additionally it is felt that the degree of visual harm presented is outweighed by the public benefits of the development.
• Lack of consultation following objections and petition on the previous application.
Response: Whilst it is always encouraged that developers/applicants engage with local parishes and communities before and during the submission of planning applications this is not a requirement. The criteria set out within Class A, Part 16 of Schedule 2 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (as amended) has been followed by the developer and all necessary consultation letters have been sent out accordingly.
• Proposing alternative sites for the development on Pound Hill and Quarry Lane.
Response: The developer has provided a document addressing why numerous other sites have not been chosen. With regard to Pound Hill it has been stated that “A mast at this location is not viable due to a physical lack of space in order to deliver the required level of coverage to the target area. This site has therefore been discounted for this reason. In addition, a site in this location would not be able to be built due to the proximity of BT lines which would make the installation of a radio base station in this location problematic. A site in this location has therefore been discounted for this reason.” Therefore this location cannot be used for the development. In respect of the sites at Quarry Lane, that lie within the Tamar Valley AONB, it is not felt that this would be appropriate to place equipment within this designated landscape, as it would not conserve or enhance the character and natural beauty of this area. Therefore it is considered that the current proposed location would be more visually acceptable.
• Objections on the previous application should remain valid and be considered on this current application.
Response: A new application was submitted as an improved design of the development was proposed. Members of the public were welcome to object to this new current proposal, however previous application objections cannot be included as a part of new applications and as such only objections received on this current application can be considered.
Unfortunately, these prior approval applications are time restricted and section 8(c) of Class A, Part 16 of Schedule 2 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (as amended) confirms that if the Local Authority have not notified the developer in writing as to whether such prior approval is required than the development can begin after the occurrence of a period of 56 days beginning on which the Local Planning Authority received this application. Therefore due to application being time critical we are unable to take it to planning committee. Moreover, given the existing surrounding environment/development near this proposed site, along with the limited assessment criteria of the relevant class of the GPDO, it is not considered that there is reasonable planning considerations to refuse this application.
I understand this is not the outcome that the parish or local residents were hoping for, however unfortunately this is the decision that has been reached. I wanted to contact to make yourselves aware of the outcome before issuing the decision. The deadline for this application is the 17th May 2023 and therefore the decision will be issued no later than this date.
10th May 2023