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In response to the government's Consultation Paper on Improving Telecommunications Development Control, the Royal T...
In response to the government's Consultation Paper on Improving Telecommunications Development Control, the Royal Town Planning Institute welcomes a review of the necessary procedures, but believes the new proposals are ill-conceived, and would prove to be positively detrimental.

The current arrangements for 'permitted' development are unsatisfactory - they provide insufficient time for consultation between the local authority and the community, and lead to increasing public concern about the proliferation of ground-based masts.

The institute argues that such relaxed control over telecoms structures is no longer appropriate when there are so many competing operators. It will simply result in an unacceptable accumulation of telecommunication equipment within both the built and natural environments.

The institute also calls for the prior notification approach to be scrapped, not enhanced. There would be too little scope for the local authority to resist proposals for masts and their siting. It would be a 'half-way house' between permitted development and a planning application.

Instead, there should be a choice between either removing the special permitted development rights for telecommunication apparatus altogether, or more carefully prescribing the forms of such development which are permitted without the need for a specific application - for instance, mast sharing, limited dimensions and locations. Either choice has the advantage of relative simplicity.

If the government wants to stick with the prior notification approach, and is really concerned about the desirability of greater public consultation, the existing single-stage process should be retained with a 42 or 56 day time-frame. There will then be scope for proper public consideration of all proposals for telecommunications development.

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