Agenda item

Ruislip Telephone Exchange - 10105/APP/2021/4537

Proposed upgrade of existing stub pole on the roof top including replacement antennae, cabinets and ancillary apparatus.


Recommendation: Approval


RESOLVED: That the application be approved


Officers presented the application and noted that this location fell within a conservation area. Officers also clarified that no interference would be made with TV frequencies as a result of this application. Reference was made to Condition 3 with regards to the control of site noise.


The Chairman permitted a resident to address the Committee in place of the lead petitioner, who was not in attendance. The resident made the following points:

·       There were no satisfactory considerations given to the concerns raised by objectors.

·       The site was very visible to neighbouring homes.

·       Reference was made to a prior occasion where trees were planted by residents to block the view of the site, which were subsequently made to be removed as they compromised an adjoining wall.


Members asked about any consultation residents had had, and the resident clarified that they had had about a seven-to-10-day period of consultation after they were informed of the application just before Christmas.


Councillor Smallwood attended as Ruislip Ward Councillor and noted that they were disappointed that the applicant had put the wrong scheme in and noted the near-total lack of consultation. The visual implications were noted given the lack of screening, and reference was made to policy DMHB 21 – Telecommunications – it was noted that there would not be a small impact if numerous small additional amendments were made, and that proposals would build up within conservation areas. No reference had been made to alternative sites (DMHB 4 – Conservation), and overall, it was noted that this was a disappointing application.


A statement was submitted by Councillor Corthorne as Ruislip Ward Councillor, which made the following points:

·       Noted the officer recommendation for approval.

·       The officer report conceded that there would be an impact on the conservation area and noted that there already was an impact from the existing stub pole. In the event of this application being approved, the visual impact would be worsened.

·       The benefits did not outweigh the harm, especially given the suggestion of alternative sites.

·       There were public concerns about health impacts, although the science behind this had not yet come to a satisfactory conclusion.

·       It was questioned if there was any requirement for independent verification of the applicant’s assertion that the proposal complied with ICNIRP Guidelines.

·       There had been a lack of engagement over this application and alternatives sites, as well as incomplete documents.

·       It was noted that while TV interference may not be a planning consideration in itself, a good developer would pick this up and address it.


Officers noted that a lack of public consultation by the applicant/ agent was not a sustainable reason for refusal, but the Planning department had carried out its own consultation.


Reference was made to paragraph 115 of the NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework) in relation to using existing masts for new telecommunications applications, and a lack of evidence of the applicant having considered alternatives sites was noted. It was noted that the benefits outweighed the harm. Reference was made to the ‘chipping away’ of numerous applications within conservation areas, although officers noted that they had to judge each individual application on its own merits. It was noted here that telecommunications applications were not always accepted, and that there were no valid health concerns related to this application as the application complied with the relevant certification. It was noted that the Committee would write to the applicant to note its disapproval around the lack of consultation.


Members asked officers to further clarify the concerns of residents and Ward Councillors in relation to the visual impact and the benefits outweighing the harm. Officers referred to paragraph 7.08 of the report which noted that the proposal was considered to be acceptable with regards to its impact on neighbour amenity – the view from neighbouring properties would be affected, but this was not a material planning consideration. Outlook was noted, but given the distance, this would not have an undue detrimental effect that would warrant refusal. With regards to the benefits outweighing the harm, there was no mathematical calculation for this, but it was noted that the move towards 5G capabilities was necessary.


Members referenced consultations and the outcome of them. Reference was made to section 6 of the report – consultations, and officers noted that there was a petition submitted in objection with 23 signatures.


Members noted that the ‘harm’ was already existing as the original stub pole was already in place. It was noted that 5G connectivity was desired even in conservation areas. It was noted that alternatives to this application (for example a 20-meter monopole) would be worse than the current application. Future incremental additions were again noted, and it was further noted that any refusal may be judged unreasonable on appeal. Members and officers concurred that an appeal against unreasonable rejection was likely to be lost.


Reference was made to the addendum which requested delegated powers in relation to outstanding consultations with the Ministry of Defence Safeguarding team.


RESOLVED: That the application be approved.

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