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  1. 1. Planning Committee AREA West Area PARISH Taverham 7 APPLICATION NO: 20050131 TG REF: 616488 315343 LOCATION OF SITE Breck Farm, Breck Farm Lane, Taverham. DESCRIPTION OF Erection of 20m Lattice Tower, 3no Antennae, 1no 300mm DEVELOPMENT and 2no 600mm transmission dishes, radio equipment housing and associated development. APPLICANT Hutchison 3G UK Ltd, c/o agent. AGENT Centac Ltd, Unit 16, Diss Business Centre, Dark Lane, Frenze, Diss, Norfolk, IP21 4HD. Date Received: 28 January 2005 8 Week Expiry Date: 25 March 2005 1 THE PROPOSAL 1.1 This application seeks full planning permission for the installation of a radio base station comprising a 20m high lattice telecommunications tower, three antennas, one 300mm and two 600mm diameter dish antennae, radio equipment housing and ancillary development. The installation is required to provide 3G coverage to the Taverham area. It is proposed that the tower be left in its galvanised state whilst the radio equipment housing situated at ground level will be coloured holly green. The radio equipment housing is 1.26m long, 0.7m wide and 1.49m high. 2 CONSULTATIONS 1.2 Taverham Parish Council: Object With regard to the issue of visual intrusion, the mast site was quite well chosen, with the topography of the land, the intervening farm building and the maturing hedge at Broom Close all conspiring to reduce the visual impact. However the questions, which hung over the health impacts of telecommunications masts remained unanswered and, while this continued 23 March 2005
  2. 2. Planning Committee to be the case, the Council would not change its stance against the siting of such masts in proximity to residential development. Dr Gibson MP has advised that emissions from masts covered a radius of 300m and 400m for a 15m and 20m high mast respectively. Councillors agreed that any proposal to site a mast closer to private dwellings than these “safe zone” distances should be rejected. Councillors wished to enquire whether the applicant had investigated site/mast sharing options and provided evidence that they were not viable in this instance. 3 PUBLICITY 1.3 Site Notice: 1.4 Expiry date 4 March 2005. 1.5 Neighbour notification: 1.6 Breck Farm Bungalow; Oaktrees; Firside; 2 – 56 (evens) and 19 Hinks Close, 2 – 48 (evens) Broom Close; 1 – 11 (odds), 15 – 23 (odds), 142 – 158 (evens), 196 – 216 (evens) and 220 – 226 Kingswood Avenue; 1a, 1b and 3-11(odds), 15-23 (odds) and 8-14(evens) Foregate Close; 7 Isbets Dale; 1 – 11 (odds), 15 – 43 (odds), 2 – 18 (evens) and 24 - 26 Wylde Croft. Expiry date 11 March 2005. 4 REPRESENTATIONS 1.7 R J Scull, 17 Broom Close, Taverham: 1.8 Object on the grounds that there are two such towers in the area, the health risk and it would be unsightly. 1.9 Mr & Mrs R B Piggott, 16 Broom Close, Taverham: 1.10 Object on this as yet unknown health risk and appearance. 5 RELEVANT POLICY GUIDANCE 1.11 PPG1 (Revised) – General Policy and Principles: Outlines the planning framework and the purposes of the planning system. Contains a general statement on planning policies. 1.12 PPG8 (Revised) – Telecommunications: Outlines the guidance to be taken into account in telecommunication developments. 23 March 2005
  3. 3. Planning Committee 1.13 The Code of Best Practise on Mobile Phone Network Development. 1.14 The Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones (The Stewart Report) 1.15 Broadland District Local Plan: 1.16 Policy GS3 Sets out general considerations to be taken into account in all new development proposals, including access, residential amenity, the character and appearance of the surrounding area, nature conservation, agricultural land, building conservation and utilities and services. 1.17 Policy CS6 Applications for telecommunications development will be permitted provided there are no significant conflicts with other policies and proposals in the Plan, and subject to other planning considerations. 1.18 Proposed Broadland District Local Plan Replacement: 1.19 Policy (RD)GS3 The conversion of buildings in the countryside to alternative uses excluding retail, or those in classes A2/A3 of the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 will be permitted, provided specific criteria are met 1.20 Policy (RD)CS4 In assessing applications for telecommunications development, regard will be had to the benefits provided by an effective telecommunications network and other planning considerations. 6 LOCATION AND DESCRIPTION OF SITE 1.21 The site is located to the north of Thorpe Marriott, a modern residential estate, along a narrow country road. Land slopes down to the north from the built up area to Breck Farm, then up from the farm buildings towards the north. There are several agricultural buildings in close proximity to the appeal site with one house close by to the south. There is an embankment with trees immediately to the rear of the site beyond which is open countryside. 7 PLANNING HISTORY 1.22 89.0332: 8 dwellings (outline). Withdrawn March 1989. 23 March 2005
  4. 4. Planning Committee 8 APPRAISAL 1.23 The main issues to take into account in the determination of this application are the Government guidance on telecommunications development, the policies of the local plan and the siting and appearance of the proposed mast. It is also a material consideration to take into account the health implications of telecommunications installations. 1.24 With regards to guidance in PPG8 and the Code of Best Practice, the Government recognises that modern telecommunications systems have a vital part to play in national life and bring significant economic and social benefits. The Government aims to facilitate the growth of new and existing systems whilst at the same time protecting the environment. 1.25 Hutchison 3G (UK) is an Electronic Code Operator by virtue of the Communications Act 2003. This provides the necessary legislative basis to run telecommunications systems. Under the terms of its licence Hutchison is required to provide coverage to 80% of the population by 2007. PPG8 advises that operators are required to provide a high quality service which includes the need to meet customer demand. Telecommunications systems are demand led, therefore operators are continually expanding their networks to accommodate customer requirements of service and quality. There is therefore a legal requirement on operators to expand their systems to ensure that all reasonable demands for service are capable of being met. Radio coverage plots submitted with the application demonstrate the need for a base station at the application site in order to provide adequate coverage to Taverham. 1.26 In order to minimise the creation of new base stations, Government guidance encourages the use of existing masts or mast sharing or utilising existing buildings or other structures. However, the Government acknowledges that there will be instances where there are no alternatives to a free standing ground based mast. 1.27 In seeking to provide a suitable site, other sites were considered in accordance with Government advice. These sites are listed below with the reasons why they were found to be unacceptable. Consideration of these sites also addresses the Parish Council’s comments regarding mast/site sharing. 1.28 Rear of Taverham Garden Centre, Fir Covert Road: The site is full at the height that Hutchison 3G would need to have optimum coverage. 1.29 BT Exchange, Fakenham Road: The site is very close to residential properties and such a proposal would be likely to raise objections from local people. If shared, the existing mast would need to be redeveloped and raised by at least 5m to achieve vertical separation of antennae. 23 March 2005
  5. 5. Planning Committee 1.30 Rear of Taverham Motor Company, 321 Fakenham Road: The site has proven to be very controversial in recent times and would be unlikely to gain approval from the LPA. 1.31 The Silver Fox PH, Fakenham Road: The surrounding trees are very high and any mast would need to be taller to clear the tops. 1.32 Business units, Fakenham Road: The site provider is not interested in having telecommunications equipment on his land. 1.33 Overflow car park, Taverham Garden Centre, Fir Covert Road: The site provider is not interested in having telecommunications equipment on his land. 1.34 Policy GS1 of the Broadland District Local Plan states that new development will normally be accommodated within development boundaries. The site lies outside the development boundary for Taverham but it is recognised that not all development proposals can be accommodated within development boundaries and this is considered to be one of those instances. The proposal therefore has to be considered on its merits, having regard to its siting and appearance whilst, at the same time, having due regard to the unique nature of the telecommunications technology and network and the limitations on location. 1.35 Radio coverage plots submitted with the application show coverage from existing base stations and from the proposed site. These demonstrate that there is a demand for radio coverage in the Thorpe Marriott area. 1.36 Whilst it is acknowledged that there is a residential estate to the south of the site, there are only two dwellings in close proximity to the proposed site. In terms of siting and appearance, there are a number of factors that combine to reduce the visual impact of the proposed mast. Firstly, the fact that the land rises away from the site means that the proposed mast will be largely hidden in long views across open countryside. Secondly, the adjacent farm buildings mean that the lower section of the mast and cabinets will not be seen apart from the view between the two buildings. Thirdly, the adjacent embankment and trees will also provide good screening and lastly the mast is not a solid structure it is a lattice mast through which sky will be seen. It is, however, acknowledged that the mast will be seen from first floor windows of houses at Thorpe Marriott but this is not considered to have an adverse impact on residential amenity. Given the site characteristics, it is considered that it would be difficult to justify raising an objection to the proposal on the grounds that the siting and appearance of the structure were unacceptable. 23 March 2005
  6. 6. Planning Committee 1.37 The parish council and a neighbour are concerned about the health implications arising from the proposal. To address these concerns, the Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones (The Stewart Report) reporting in 2000 concluded that the balance of evidence suggests that there is no general risk to the health of people living near base stations on the basis that exposure to radio waves are expected to be small fractions of the guidelines. The report did, however, recommend a precautionary approach which includes compliance with the guidelines on limiting exposure to radio waves published by the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP). Furthermore, clear guidance on the health issues is provided by PPG8 which states that it is the Government’s firm view that the planning system is not the place for determining health safeguards. It remains Central Government responsibility to decide what measures are necessary to protect public health. In the Government’s view, if a proposed mobile phone base station meets the ICNIRP guidelines for public exposure, it should not be necessary for a Local Planning Authority to further consider the health aspects and concerns about them. 1.38 This application is accompanied by a Declaration of Conformity with ICNIRP Public Exposure Guidelines. A theoretical model which also accompanies the application shows that at 251m from the mast the emissions are 9956 times less than the ICNIRP standard. At 540m from the mast, the emissions are 23079 times less than the standard. Given the conformity with the ICNIRP guidelines and Government guidance, it is not considered appropriate to consider further any health concerns surrounding this proposal. 1.39 This application is reported to Committee at the request of one of the Ward Members. RECOMMENDATION: APPROVE subject to the following condition. A1 (Standard time limit) Reason: R2 (Statutory requirement) Reasons for decision: This application has been considered against the policies of the development plan for the area comprising the Norfolk Structure Plan and the Broadland District Local Plan. The policies particularly relevant to the determination of this application are GS3 and CS6 of the Local Plan. Consideration has also been given to Government advice in PPG8, the Code of Best Practice on Mobile Phone Network Development 2002 and 23 March 2005
  7. 7. Planning Committee the Stewart Report. Consideration has also been given to the proposed Broadland District Local Plan Replacement and some weight given to Policies (RD)GS4 and (RD)CS4. The siting and appearance of the proposed mast and associated equipment is considered acceptable, as existing trees and agricultural buildings will help to screen it. The proposal is also sufficiently far enough away from residential properties to ensure that there will be no adverse impact on residential amenity. The proposal therefore complies with the relevant policies of the Local Plan and represents an acceptable form of development. 23 March 2005