What prior approval is
Prior approval means that a developer has to seek approval from the local planning authority (the council) that particular parts of the development are acceptable before work can begin.
This applies to the installation, alteration or replacement of any electronic communications equipment (including upgrades to existing masts).
Under rules is set by government, council planners can only look at the siting and appearance of a mast when considering their decision on prior approval.
Our role is to weigh up the impact of the mast(s) on the local area, including heritage assets and green spaces, against the benefits.
The kinds of things that we can consider under siting include:
- the height in relation to surrounding land
- whether it is in a National Park or Conservation Area
- the structures or buildings
- how close it is to residential property
The sort of things we can consider under appearance include:
More information about prior approval is available from GOV.UK.
Making decisions within the time limit
Where prior approval is required, if the council does not decide the application within 56 days of receiving it, the developer has deemed approval and the build of the mast can go ahead.
This tight timescale means it isn't possible for the planning committee to consider these applications.
So that approval isn’t given straight away by default, which is what the law says happens if a decision isn't made, the head of planning and council planning officers deal with these decisions.