William Eichler 07 March 2022

Planning laws reformed to speed up 5G roll-out

Planning laws reformed to speed up 5G roll-out image
Image: jax10289/Shutterstock.com.

Local government leaders have criticised planning law reforms that will enable mobile network operators to make new and existing phone masts up to five metres taller and two metres wider than current rules permit.

The digital infrastructure minister Julia Lopez has confirmed that the Government will make the amendments to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 in order to connect the countryside to 4G quicker and accelerate 5G roll-out.

Under the changes to the existing permitted development rights, existing mobile masts will be able to be strengthened without prior approval, so they can be upgraded for 5G and shared between mobile operators.

This move would allow increases to the width of existing masts by up to either 50% or two metres (whichever is greatest) and, in unprotected areas, allow increases in height up to a maximum of 25 metres (previously 20 metres). Greater increases will also be permitted subject to approval by the local authority.

The new rules also mean that new masts will be able to be built up to five metres higher – meaning a maximum of 30 metres in unprotected areas and 25 metres in protected areas, subject to approval by the planning authority.

‘We’ve all felt the frustration of having the ‘no bar blues’ when struggling to get a phone signal, so we’re changing the law to wipe out mobile ‘not spots’ and dial up the roll out of next-generation 5G,’ said Ms Lopez.

‘Phone users across the country will benefit - whether they are in a city, village or on the road - and tighter rules on the visual impact of new infrastructure will ensure our cherished countryside is protected.’

Hamish MacLeod, chief executive of Mobile UK, said: ‘Building the mobile networks that provide the connectivity on which we all rely is both complex and challenging.

‘The industry welcomes the reforms to planning regulations proposed by the Government. They will enable operators to deploy mobile networks more efficiently to meet ambitious targets for rural and urban coverage, including next-generation 5G.’

Responding to the announcement, Cllr David Renard, housing and planning spokesperson for the Local Government Association (LGA) said: 'Tackling the digital divide will be important to levelling up in every community, ensuring everyone has the connectivity they need to thrive.

'However, weakening planning control and increasing permitted development rights takes away the ability of residents, businesses and councillors to contribute in a meaningful way to the deployment of new or upgraded masts, sites and infrastructure, and circumvents local plans.

'Instead of pushing for more permitted development, we would like to see the Government continue to work with local government and the mobile industry to help the streamlined deployment of infrastructure within the current planning system.

'We are also calling on Government to provide funding for councils to put in place a local digital champion, to act as a central contact point to help coordinate local delivery.'

For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Senior Business Change Officer

South Derbyshire District Council
£28,226 - £30,984
A fantastic opportunity to join an ambitious and transforming Council. Swadlincote, Derbyshire
Recuriter: South Derbyshire District Council

Service Director - Community Development

South Gloucestershire Council
Recuriter: South Gloucestershire Council

Team Support Worker

Leicestershire County Council
An exciting opportunity has arisen to work to assist in the coordination to support the management of a comprehensive countywide Team Support Service. Leicester, Leicestershire
Recuriter: Leicestershire County Council

Assertive Inreach Worker

Leicestershire County Council
We now have an exciting opportunity to join our team working as an Assertive Inreach Worker. Leicester, Leicestershire
Recuriter: Leicestershire County Council

Assistant Early Education Funding Officer

City of Bradford MDC
£22,129 - £24,920
An exciting opportunity has arisen within the Intelligence and Sufficiency Service to work within the Early Education Funding team. Bradford, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: City of Bradford MDC

Partner Content

Circular highways is a necessity not an aspiration – and it’s within our grasp

Shell is helping power the journey towards a circular paving industry with Shell Bitumen LT R, a new product for roads that uses plastics destined for landfill as part of the additives to make the bitumen.

Support from Effective Energy Group for Local Authorities to Deliver £430m Sustainable Warmth Funded Energy Efficiency Projects

Effective Energy Group is now offering its support to the 40 Local Authorities who have received a share of the £430m to deliver their projects on the ground by surveying properties and installing measures.

Pay.UK – the next step in Bacs’ evolution

Dougie Belmore explains how one of the main interfaces between you and Bacs is about to change.