What 5G is

5G is the fifth generation of mobile internet (5G).

It offers:

  • much faster digital download and upload speeds
  • wider coverage
  • more stable connections than we have now
  • greater capacity, allowing thousands of devices in a small area to connect at the same time

Find out more about 5G on the Ofcom website.

5G mast planning process

Permission to install 5G masts

The council, as a planning authority, must follow central government planning policy and decide each application for a new mast on its merits, where these can be taken into account.

However, masts and telecommunications equipment do not always need planning permission from the council.

Masts fall into 3 categories:

The government has introduced new rules to support the deployment of 5G and extend mobile coverage. These came into force on 4 April 2022. 

New planning rules - April 2022

Changes to the law introduced by the government mean that telecoms operators can do the following under ‘permitted development’ rights - without council approval: 

  • alter or replace existing masts by increasing the height up to 25 metres high on unprotected land, or 20 metres on highway land 
  • increase existing mast heights to up to 25 metres (previously 20 metres) - prior approval or a planning application (depending on the location) is required for taller replacement masts
  • increase existing mast heights in protected areas, or replace masts which exceed 20m in height, or where the mast is less than 1m in diameter, it would be increased by more than two thirds - or if 1m or more in diameter, would not exceed the existing diameter by more than half or 2m, whichever is greater
  • replace or alter existing masts of up to 2 metres in diameter or 50% wider than the existing structure, whichever is greater   
  • install masts of up to 6 metres  in height on roofs (above the maximum roof height) – outside of conservation areas

Where to find applications

You can view the location of existing masts and applications on our MastData map.

You can view the details of applications and give comments on our planning register.

5G masts Permitted Development

Masts allowed as permitted development  

Masts that are installed on buildings outside of Conservation Areas and are less than 6 metres in height (above the highest part of the building) do not require a full planning permission or prior approval. They have planning permission as ‘permitted development’.   

In these cases, the developer must notify the council of its intention to install a mast, a description of the apparatus and the location it proposes to install it. They can install the mast after 28 days’ notice. During this period, the council can advise the developer of any conditions they wish the developer to comply with when they install the mast. 

This is sometimes referred to as a ‘regulation 5 notification’ or ‘code notification’. 

We publish a weekly list of planning applications every Friday in the Classified Adverts section of the Argus newspaper. This includes notifications from telecoms companies of an installation of electronic communications apparatus and any ancillary equipment under Regulation 5 Permitted Development rules. 

Code of Practice for Wireless Network Development in England 

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport has published a Code of Practice for mobile network operators and wireless infrastructure providers. This gives guidance on how to carry out their roles and responsibilities when installing wireless network infrastructure. 

The Code’s stated aim is to support the government’s objective of delivering high quality wireless infrastructure whilst balancing these needs with environmental considerations. 

Section 84 of the guidance deals with pre-application consultation with local communities. This states that: 

“For some applications, it may be appropriate for the operator to consult with local residents... Forms of community engagement which may be appropriate include: 

  • Consultation/Notification letter to local residents, communities and their representatives, including parish and town councils 
  • Site notice 
  • Key stakeholder briefing 
  • Leaflets” 

We encourage operators to follow the Code of Practice on this. 

5G masts Prior Approval

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: 

  • materials 
  • colour 
  • design 
  • dimensions 
  • shape 

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. 

5G masts Full Planning Permission

When masts need full planning permission 

Masts will need full planning permission if they are over: 

  • 30 metres in height from ground level 
  • 15 metres in height on a building  

But tighter restrictions apply in certain cases, such as on lower buildings and in Conservation Areas and Sites of Special Scientific Interest

In most instances 5G technology allows for shorter and smaller masts that can be incorporated into existing street furniture (such as lamp posts). 5G masts are therefore less likely to need full planning permission. 

Mast and applications map

We have commissioned independent mobile telecoms industry data experts Mastdata to provide an interactive map showing the location of masts and applications in Brighton & Hove.

View the map

How to use the map

Use the + or – buttons to zoom in or out of the map. 

Select the marker for “Mast” to show the operator of an existing mast.

Select the marker for an “Application” to show brief details of that application including the planning application reference number.

Select the “Reg 5 notification” marker to show brief details of the application.

These are classed as ‘permitted’ but we are entitled under Regulation 5 of the Electronic Communications Code (Conditions and Restrictions) Regulations 2003 to give notice to the Telecom Operator/Developer of any conditions we would like them to comply with. 

You can view the details of applications and give comments on our planning register.

Public health guidance

Under government guidelines, public health issues are not something we're allowed to consider in deciding applications.

Public Health England (PHE) provides expert advice on public health matters relating to mobile phone technology.

We've been working with PHE to get the latest information and guidance to understand whether there are any health risks for the public.

From the evidence PHE say that the current exposure of radio waves to the general public is well within the international health-related guideline levels that the UK uses.

There is also no evidence that 5G causes damage to wildlife.

When adding 5G to an existing network or in a new area, exposure to radio waves is low because the mast installers must follow public exposure guidelines.

These guidelines written by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) have the support of:  

  • UK Government
  • European Union
  • World Health Organisation. 

All UK mobile phone network operators must follow Public Health England guidance on 5G and applications for masts should include a certificate of ICNIRP compliance.

Councils have been told by ministers that they should not refuse planning applications for masts or base stations on health grounds where these meet the ICNIRP guidelines. 

Find guidance on 5G technologies and health on the gov.uk website. There is also a government short guide to 5G Mobile technology.

Research and Innovation Fibre Ring 

The Research and Innovation Fibre Ring (RIFR) was first proposed in the Coast to Capital Local Economic Partnership’s Strategic Economic Plan. 

Many of Brighton & Hove’s small and medium digital businesses are in parts of the city that were poorly served by existing broadband. Many such firms were having to pay for expensive bespoke leased lines.

The RIFR project will lay new municipally controlled fibre-optic cables. They will link strategic digital sites within the city.


The project will also enable the provision of a new 5G testbed at the Brighton Dome and Corn Exchange. This will help local businesses understand how these technologies might operate in an arts and culture setting.

More information

You can find more information about the project on the Coast To Capital LEP website.