A proposal from EE (UK) Ltd and Hutchison UK Ltd to install an 18.2m high 5G mast and associated cabinets off Stirling Way in Ramsgate has been rejected at appeal.
The application for the installation, which would have been in place of an 8m high lamppost, was lodged in December 2022 and refused by Thanet council in February last year.
In the application EE/Hutchison say: “The current monopole installation is being replaced, only with a larger 5G monopole installation of similar monopole design to facilitate significantly improved connectivity.
“The sharing of base stations between multiple operators is one of the key strategic policy principles contained within the NPPF. H3G and EE have a network sharing agreement.”
The application provoked 104 letters of objection raising concerns including health risks, lack of consultation and visual impact.
A report to councillors last year said: “The proposed monopole including the GPS Node fixed to the top would measure 18.2 metres, and would be 10.2 metres taller than the existing pole.”
Thanet council’s decision to refuse came after the planning report highlighted several concerns, including a lack of information supplied about coverage n Ramsgate, a lack of consultation and the height of the mast.
A report said: “The existing mast (stated to be removed) was permitted in 2000, prior to significant changes to legislation regarding telecommunications submission, with inevitable changes in network coverage in Ramsgate in the past 20 years.
“The justification for the replacement mast is the larger 5G monopole installation would “facilitate significantly improved connectivity”, however no other information is provided about network coverage in Ramsgate.
“In this instance, the schools, LPA, Town Council and Ward Councillors were notified on 5th December, just prior to the Christmas holiday period, the busiest time for the postal service, with the application being submitted on 12th December 2022, 7 days after. Whilst this failure to comply with the Code of Practice does not provide ground of refusal of the prior approval from the evidence provided it is extremely regrettable that the operator has not accorded with the guidance by not allowing sufficient time for any meaningful dialogue in regards to the formulation of the proposal.”
The planning officer conclusion added: “Whilst information has been provided about why the specific site of the current mast can’t be used, no further information has been provided about potential other sites (either EE sites or other network providers in the area), or less obtrusive locations if the existing site cannot be used” and deemed the proposal: “overbearing, obtrusive and incongruous.”
EE/Hutchison appealed to the Planning Inspectorate but this has been rejected with the Planning Inspector saying: “The installation would have a harmful effect upon the character and appearance of the area. Insofar as it is a material consideration, the proposed installation would be contrary to the development plan taken as a whole.
“I am not convinced that less harmful alternatives have been properly explored and I do not consider that the need for the installation outweighs the harm it would cause. The appeal should therefore be dismissed.”
Thanet council leader and ward councillor Rick Everitt said: “This is very good news. I have opposed this mast from the outset on the only available planning grounds that it is far too big for the location.
“The council quite rightly refused to grant prior consent for it and I’m delighted for all the residents who joined me in objecting that the planning inspector has agreed with us that it should not go ahead.”