Station Road Phone Mast

Residents can’t have failed to notice the new 5G mobile phone mast on Station Road and a number of people have contacted the Parish Council with concerns and objections.

When given the opportunity, the Parish Council reflected the desire of the community to have better mobile phone coverage and welcomed the prospect of getting a 5G service in the town, but objected to the proposed location of the new mast. It also proposed some alternative and less intrusive locations. However, these comments had no effect and the mast was erected for all to see.

What Happened?

On 5 July 2021 WHP Telecoms Ltd wrote to the Parish Council as a statutory consultee to seek its views on installation of a mast.

On 26 July 2021 the Parish Council responded to say that whilst it supported installation of a 5G mast to improve signal within the parish, it could not support the proposed location on Station Road due to proximity to a residential care home, library and school; the fact the pavement is already dangerous at peak times when cars often drive on the pavement; and the fact the mast would be visually obtrusive and as such have a negative visual impact on approach to the town.

In the same letter, the Parish Council suggested alternative locations, one being on top of the drill tower at the rear of the Fire Station as at other sites in Leicestershire, the other being at the Sewage Treatment works thereby also improving signal for nearby rural parishes. These suggestions were ignored.

We expected the application would subsequently be put out for general public consultation.

On 16 July 2021, without even waiting for the response from the Parish Council, WHP Telecoms Ltd applied to the Borough Council for planning permission. This is not a normal planning application but was submitted in order to determine whether or not ‘prior approval’ was needed before proceeding. The reason for this is that telecoms companies (among others) have a right under certain circumstances to erect infrastructure without planning permission.

We were dismayed to subsequently be informed that the application would not go out to public consultation after all because, in the Borough Council’s view, the 5G mast did not need prior approval.

In their submission they claimed that “site options were found to be extremely limited and the only viable solution that minimises amenity issues is proposed”. And “the design of the proposed development is considered to be the least visually intrusive option available”. This is in spite of Paragraph 115 of the National Planning Policy Framework stating that “where new sites are required equipment should be sympathetically designed and camouflaged where appropriate”.

HBBC’s planning department decided that prior approval was not necessary and that the work could proceed.

The Parish Council has complained to the planning authority, including the Chief Executive about this (bill.cullen@hinckley-bosworth.gov.uk if you want to contact him yourself) as we believe the mast should require prior approval and should have been properly consulted on and planning permission refused.

Please note that the Parish Council has tried to prevent the mast being erected in this location and will continue to contact the planning authority (the Borough Council) to raise our complaints and objections relating to this and other planning matters in the parish.