National Policy and Guidance

The provision of telecommunication infrastructure features within sections of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and the Nation Design Guidance.

NPPF (Updated July 2021)

The NPPF provides policy guidance, application criteria and design advice for the planning and development of telecommunications infrastructure, including the deployment of 5G networks. The NPPF acknowledges the economic growth and social well-being benefits of high-quality, reliable digital communications infrastructure. Under Chapter 10, ‘Supporting high quality communications’, the significant reference paragraphs are:

para 114 states that:

“Planning policies and decisions should support the expansion of electronic communications networks, including next generation mobile technology (such as 5G”

“Policies should set out how high-quality digital infrastructure, providing access to services from a range of providers, is expected to be delivered and upgraded over time; and should prioritise full fibre connections to existing and new developments”

para 115 states that:

“The number of radio and electronic communications masts, and the sites for such installations, should be kept to a minimum consistent with the needs of consumers and for the efficient operation of the network and providing reasonable capacity for future expansion.”

“Where new sites are required (such as for 5G networks, or for connected transport and smart city applications), equipment should be sympathetically designed and camouflaged where appropriate”.

para 116 states that:

“Local planning authorities should not impose a ban on new electronic communications development in certain areas, impose blanket Article 4 directions over a wide area or a wide range of electronic communications development, or insist on minimum distances between new electronic communications development and existing development. They should ensure that:

a) they have evidence to demonstrate that electronic communications infrastructure is not expected to cause significant and irremediable interference with other electrical equipment, air traffic services or instrumentation operated in the national interest; and

b) they have considered the possibility of the construction of new buildings or other structures interfering with broadcast and electronic communications services.”

para 117 states that:

“Applications for electronic communications development (including applications for prior approval under the General Permitted Development Order) should be supported by the necessary evidence to justify the proposed development. This should include:

a) the outcome of consultations with organisations with an interest in the proposed development, in particular with the relevant body where a mast is to be installed near a school or college, or within a statutory safeguarding zone surrounding an aerodrome, technical site or military explosives storage area; and

b) for an addition to an existing mast or base station, a statement that self-certifies that the cumulative exposure, when operational, will not exceed International Commission guidelines on non-ionising radiation protection; or

c) for a new mast or base station, evidence that the applicant has explored the possibility of erecting antennas on an existing building, mast or other structure and a statement that self-certifies that, when operational, International Commission guidelines will be met.”

National Design Guide (Updated 2019)

Paragraph 157 (p47) – “Well-designed places also have highspeed digital connectivity in order to provide options and information for education, health, leisure, social interaction, businesses, and home working”

The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) (No. 2) Order 2016 PART 16

Part 16 is the current key legislation for the installation of electronic communications. This guidance is shortly to be updated (2021) for review in light of the nature of the outdated guidance and new changes in to Permitted Development Rights.

NB: In consultation with the MNOs we will update this section of the website to summarise these changes.

 See for exceptions to the Permitted development guidance. This is dated – revised by The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) (No. 2) Order 2016  SI 2016/1040

Current Planning Case studies (pre 2021 guidance update)

Case study 1: Forsythia House Ruling

Third Party took Lewisham Council to a Judicial Review in February 2018

Cornerstone appealed to the Court of Appeal March 2019

Part 16 definition of a mast states:  

“Mast” – means a radio mast or radio tower;

Judicial Review assessment:

“Mast” – each central support pole is a radio mast… as it supports antennae which transmit and receive radio waves;

 Court of Appeal assessment:

“Mast” – an upright pole or a lattice-work structure, whose function is to support an antenna or aerial;

Case Study 2: Replacement of a 12.5m monopole with a 20m monopole

Appeal Ref: APP/M5450/W/20/3244354 Belmont Circle Street works, Belmont Circle, Kenton Lane, Harrow HA3 8RF

 “Whilst a degree of increased visual impact over and above the existing masts is inevitable due to the increase in height of the proposed mast, it is nevertheless the minimum height and girth capable of providing the improved services and introducing 5G technologies to the area, whilst also satisfying ICNIRP standards. It is also set away from residential development.”

Key points to check:

  • The type of application (replacement or new) replacement pole may be reg5 subject to conditions
  • Mast height 20/25m for PD
  • Distance from dwellings and roads need to provide coverage to where people use their mobile device – work or rest
  • Location (Protected or designated area or landscape)
  • Time frame to determine the application is 56days (beginning with the date on which the local planning authority received the application)
  • Weighing the public benefit against the perceived visual impact – can be a subjective test but important to note NPPF guidance.

Page updated: 2/02/2022

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