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  • 2008/1730 BUS TURNING CIRCLE OFF WIDNEY LANE (ADJACENT TO ENTRANCE OF WIDNEY MANOR STATION) Application No: 2008/1730 Ward/Area: St ALPHEGE Location: BUS TURNING CIRCLE OFF WIDNEY LANE (ADJACENT TO ENTRANCE OF WIDNEY MANOR STATION) SOLIHULL Date Registered: 15/09/2008 Applicant: TELEFONICA 02 UK LTD Proposal: PRIOR NOTIFICATION APPLICATION FOR A REPLACEMENT 15m HIGH TELECOMMUNICATIONS MAST IN THE FORM OF A REPLICA TELEGRAPH POLE, REPLACEMENT ANTENNAS AND EQUIPMENT CABINET. PROPOSAL The installation of telecommunications apparatus is provided for under Part 24 of Schedule 2 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995, subject to conditions set out in paragraph A.3. Amongst other criteria, paragraph A.3. requires a telecommunication operator to apply to the Local Planning Authority for a determination as to whether the prior approval of the authority will be required for the ‘siting and appearance’ of the development. This proposal seeks prior approval for the replacement of an existing 15m high telecommunications mast in the form of a replica telegraph pole with replacement antennas contained within a GRP shroud and an additional equipment cabinet. The replacement mast would be sited in the same position as the existing mast which is located to the back of the footpath adjoining a bus turning circle providing commuter transportation ‘to and from’ Widney Manor Park and Ride. The proposed equipment cabinet, which would be located 1metre west of the existing cabinet, would be 1.50m in width, 0.3m in depth and would have a height of 1.5m. The equipment cabinet would be painted Green RAL 6009, which would match the existing cabinet. CONSULTATION RESPONSES Highway Engineer : No objection Neighbours Notified : 16/09/08, 19/09/08 & 29/09/08 Page 1
  • Site Notice : 19/09/08 & 30/09/08 REPRESENTATIONS At the time of writing the report 4 letters of neighbour letters have been received. Comments made are summarised as follows: - • Mast is an eyesore that should be erected away from residential properties; • Pole is clearly visible from house; • There is plenty of green space on either side of Widney Manor Road and one side of Widney Lane; • Council takes no notice of what residents say; • Is talk of 3 trees to be removed to accommodate a crossing so mast would be very visible; • Will power output be greater than at present? • What will shroud antennas look like? • Ugly large orange cabinet has been removed but what size will new cabinets be? • Screening provided by trees does not take into account differences in seasons; • Health concerns – long term health effects of this type of radiation are unknown and must still be considered a high risk; • Mast visible from Ashbrook Crescent, increase in width would mean mast would be more visible in this street scene. • Our property is within 100m of mast making it in the highest ‘RFI’ band – mast would unlikely to gain permission if it were sited within 200m of a school but it seems ok to build within 200m of a housing estate where numerous children live; • Surely whilst upgrade is taking place mast could be re-located within the station boundary or elsewhere away from private properties; and • Notification letter incorrectly states the mast to be on Widney Manor Road but it is on Widney Lane. POLICY RPG11 – Regional Planning Guidance for the West Midlands (2004) QE3 Creating a High Quality Environment for All Solihull UDP (2006) ENV2 Urban Design ENV9 Telecommunications Government Guidance PPS1 Delivering Sustainable Development PPG8 Telecommunications Page 2
  • PPG13 Transport SPGs None relevant PLANNING HISTORY 2006/1798 (Refused) [28th September 2006] Telecommunications: Installation of a radio base station consisting of a 15 metre replica pole column incorporating siz no. antennas, equipment cabinet and ancillary development – Allowed on appeal (no. 3466) SITE DESCRIPTION The replacement mast and additional equipment cabinet would be located to the back of the pavement and is sited just off Widney Lane on the approach to Widney Manor train station. The immediate area is predominately residential in character consisting of a mixture of properties with fields further to the south and east. The site lies on the southern side of Widney Lane within a wide footpath next to the bus turning circle at the bottom of the station approach road. The area has a range of existing street furniture including existing street columns, road direction signs and two bus shelters. The site falls outside of the designated West Midlands Green Belt, however, its boundary lies along the railway line to the east of the application site. MAIN ISSUES • Background; • Policy; • Impact on street scene; • Residential Amenity; • Highway Considerations; and • Health. APPRAISAL Background In 2006 an application for prior approval for telecommunications: Installation of a radio base station consisting of a 15 metre replica pole column incorporating six no. antennas, equipment cabinet and ancillary development was reported to your Planning Sub-Committee on 27th September 2006 and was refused for the following reasons: 1. The proposed 15m high telecommunications mast and ancillary equipment is considered inappropriate in this location and would have Page 3 View slide
  • an overbearing impact on nearby residential properties. The proposal therefore conflicts with Policy ENV2 and ENV9 of the Solihull UDP (2006). For the above reasons the proposal does not comply with Policy ENV9 of the Solihull UDP (2006) and provisions contained within PPS1 Delivering Sustainable Development 2005, PPG8 Telecommunications. 2. The proposed 15m high monopole would appear intrusive and incongruous within the street scene because of its excessive height which would be viewed above the existing deciduous tree canopy and above nearby street furniture. The proposal is therefore contrary to Policy ENV2 and Policy ENV9 of Solihull UDP (2006) and provisions contained within PPS1 Delivering Sustainable Development 2005, PPG8 Telecommunications. This decision was challenged at appeal, which was allowed on 19th March 2007. The Inspectors Appeal Decision is attached to this report, however, to summarise, the Inspector concluded that the column and associated cabinet equipment would not have a significant effect on the character and appearance of the street scene or the living conditions of local residents in terms of their outlook, and that the appellant has established a need for the column to serve the area and that suitable alternative sites are not available. Policy PPG8 ‘Telecommunications’ aims to facilitate the growth of new and existing telecommunications systems whilst ensuring that telecommunication equipment has the least visual intrusion to its surroundings. To prevent the proliferation of masts and equipment, PPG8 advocates the sharing of masts and sites to ensure the optimum environmental solution is found. PPG8 continues that use should be made of existing buildings and other structures before free-standing structures are proposed. Where free-standing structures are required, operators should use sympathetic design and camouflage to minimise the impact of development on the environment. PPG8 advocates that the operator should undertake an assessment of need, which should support any application to the local planning authority. In this instance, the application seeks prior approval to remove the existing 15m high mast in the form of a telegraph pole and erect a replacement 15m high mast also in the form of a telegraph pole and an additional equipment cabinet. The replacement mast would have a diameter 55mm wider than the existing mast. Although the mast which was allowed at appeal was needed to improve both 2G and 3G coverage for Widney Manor residents and people using the railway station the applicants advise that to date only the 2G coverage element of the base station has been implement. The applicants Design, Access and Supporting statement states that the changes are required to allow the mast to upgrade the equipment to allow dual 2G/3G coverage. Policy ENV9 of the Solihull UDP seeks to reiterate policy considerations advocated by PPG8. Policy ENV9 seeks to resist telecommunication Page 4 View slide
  • equipment that is located in or adjacent to sensitive locations, which may include residential areas, education and health institutions, listed buildings, conservation areas, archaeological sites, sites of ecological and geological importance, historic parks and gardens, public open space and Green Belt. In such areas, Policy ENV9 stipulates that development will only be permitted if there is no other technically suitable location that both meets operational requirements and causes less environmental harm, and any mast is at a distance of at least twice its height from the nearest residential property. Impact on street scene The previous application for 15m high mast in the form of a telegraph pole was refused by the Council as it was considered to appear intrusive and incongruous within the street scene because of its excessive height which would be viewed above existing deciduous trees and above existing street furniture. The mast was subsequently allowed on appeal following the Inspectors decision that the column would not appear out of place, bearing in mind its location, with trees in front and behind, in a bus turning circle adjoining the railway station and a main road, and would be acceptable in respect of its visual impact on the character and appearance of the local street scene. The one that was subsequently erected was only 275mm in diameter rather than the 335mm that was applied for. The mast the subject of this application would be positioned in the same location as the one it is proposed to replace. It would be the same height as the existing mast that was allowed on appeal and the antenna would also be shrouded behind a brown wood effect GRP. The only differences are the width of the pole, which would have a diameter of 330mm compared to the 275mm that has been erected and the installation of an additional cabinet equipment cabinet, which would be painted green to match the existing cabinet. The replacement mast would be able to support both 2G and 3G antennas whereas the existing mast is only 2G compatible. It is important to note that the mast that was allowed at appeal was the same diameter and height as the current proposal. Whilst it could be argued that the mast could be provided in the proposed form without the benefit of a further application for prior approval, in view of the application being submitted, it would be prudent to determine the application in the usual procedure. The need to improve both 2G and 3G coverage in Widney Manor was considered at the time of the appeal for the existing mast. Consideration had then been given to alternative sites, which included the use of existing buildings and structures and the sharing of other masts. The Inspector was satisfied that existing masts at Monkspath Business Park and Manor Road were not suitably located to provide the service needed. Seven alternative sites were considered but for various reasons none were suitable or available to accommodate the proposed facility. The Inspector was therefore satisfied that the appellant had provided satisfactory evidence to show that there was a need for the proposed antennae in the area and that they had investigated the possibility of using alternative and preferable sites which had not proved possible. Page 5
  • Therefore, as the need to improve 2G and 3G coverage has already been demonstrated and accepted at appeal in accordance with PPG8 to seek the most environmentally optimum solution your officers consider a replacement mast of the same height and form but 55mm wider than the mast erected to be preferable to an additional mast in the vicinity. The applicants, in their supporting statement state that the other alternative approach would be to stack three additional 3G antennas above the existing antennas but this would require a 2 – 2.5m increase in the overall height of the installation. The increase in width would provide a more substantial column than is existing. However, in view of the previous appeal decision and the location within the bus turning circle, which is set back from Widney Lane itself and separated from this road by a deep verge containing mature trees and in consideration of the backdrop which is densely vegetated the proposal is not considered to cause significant harm to the appearance of the streetscene over and above the existing situation. The very top of the mast is visible from Ashbrook Crescent however due to the distances involved and the dense vegetation which separates the mast from this residential street the additional width is unlikely to be harmful to this street scene. The installation of one equipment cabinet in addition to the one existing is not considered to be detrimental to this street scene. The cabinet would be painted dark green to match the existing cabinet which your officers do not consider to be intrusive within Widney Lane. Therefore, your officers consider the proposed replacement mast to be in accordance with Policy ENV2 and ENV9 of Solihull Unitary Development and guidance PPG8 Telecommunications. Residential Amenity The application site falls within a predominantly residential area and the previous application for 15m high mast in the form of a telegraph pole was refused due to the overbearing impact on residential properties. Policy ENV9 Telecommunications of Solihull UDP states that any mast should be located at a distance of at least twice its height from the nearest residential property. The nearest residential accommodation at 5 Ashbrook Crescent which is located 27.5m from the proposed mast which would be less than the recommended separation distance as required by Policy ENV9. The Planning Inspector in paragraph 10 of his decision letter, noted that although the mast would not conform to the distance of twice the height from No. 5 Ashbrook Crescent it would comply with this guide for the majority of houses around the site. Furthermore, the Inspector was of the opinion that the harm to No. 5 Ashbrook Crescent would be strictly limited because most of the column would be screened by trees between Widney Lane and Nos. 1, 3 & 5 Ashbrook Crescent. The main issue to consider, therefore, is whether the increase in width would significantly effect the living conditions of these residents in terms of their Page 6
  • outlook. The inspector acknowledged that the pole that was allowed was relatively slender and that with this in mind together with the screening and unencumbered shape of the column he concluded the mast would have an acceptable impact on the residents amenities. When viewed from Ashbrook Close only the top section of the pole is visible due to the dense vegetation. The antenna are currently concealed within a cylindrical wood effect shroud at the upper most section which would continue to be the case for the proposed replacement mast. The existing pole would be increased in width by 55mm, however, the pole that the Inspector considered at appeal was the same width as the proposed replacement pole. Whilst a material change to the pole that currently exists due to the dense screening and the distances between the site and the residential properties the increased width is not considered to be significantly more harmful to the outlook of these properties over and above the existing situation. The proposed replacement mast is, therefore, not considered to have a detrimental impact on the outlook of nearby residential properties. Highway Considerations Your Highway Engineer has raised no objection to the proposal in relation to the replacement mast or additional equipment cabinet, which would be both set well back from the main Widney Lane junction and would be accessed via the approach to station approach access road and via the bus only lane. Your officers consider the proposal to be in accordance with PPG13 Transport. Health The proposal is in compliance with ICNIRP guidelines – the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) for public exposure. PPG8 states that if a proposed installation meets ICNIRP guidelines, it should not be necessary for local planning authority to consider matters of public health. In this instance the applicants have provided a certificate indicating that the proposed installation does fall within ICNIRP guidelines. The applicants have also submitted a Health and Safety Statement in support of the proposal. Health considerations and public concern can in principle be material considerations in determining applications. Whether they are significant to the determining of this application depends upon the weight that can be attached to them, however, PPG8 is clear in advising that the planning system is not the place for determining what measures are necessary to protect public health. Page 7
  • CONCLUSION In conclusion the replacement mast which is not considered to be significantly more harmful to the visual amenity of the locality, amenities of neighbouring properties or public safety than the existing mast. RECOMMENDATION For the reasons outlined above I recommend that prior approval be granted. Page 8