A key part of the Levelling Up agenda is to enable better digital connectivity across the country, including 5G coverage for the majority of the population.
Amendments will be made to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 and will come into effect on Monday 4th April 2022. These amendments will ensure that the planning system continues to support the deployment of new mobile infrastructure and network upgrades so that people can be confident that they will remain connected where they live, work and travel.
The changes to existing permitted development rights include:
- Existing mobile masts to be strengthened without prior approval. This means they can be upgraded for 5G and shared between mobile operators. It would allow increases to the width of existing masts by up to either 50 per cent 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.
- New masts 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.
- Buildings to host smaller masts (up to six metres in height above building) in unprotected areas without prior approval. This is to accelerate network upgrades and reduce the need to build new masts.
- Building-based masts to be set up nearer to public roads subject to prior approval to improve mobile coverage for road users.
- Cabinets containing radio equipment to be deployed alongside masts without prior approval and to allow greater flexibility for installing cabinets in existing compounds (fenced-off sites containing masts and other communications equipment) to support new 5G networks.
- Conditions to ensure that telecoms equipment does not block pavements and access to properties.