Mobile planning reforms and changes to Permitted Development Rights

Mobile planning reforms and changes to Permitted Development Rights

In August last year DCMS and MHCLG launched a consultation proposing reforms to permitted development rights to support the deployment of 5G and extend mobile coverage. BSG responded in favour of the proposals.

Government has determined that there is sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the proposed reforms would have a positive impact on the government’s ambitions for the deployment of 5G and extending mobile coverage. 

Key changes:

  • New masts – build taller, subject to prior approval by the planning authority, to deliver better coverage and allow more mobile operators to place equipment on them.
  • Existing masts – strengthen without prior approval, so that they can be upgraded to 5G and shared between mobile operators.
  • Building-based masts – place near highways to support better mobile coverage, subject to prior approval.
  • Cabinets containing radio equipment – deploy alongside masts, without prior approval, to support new 5G networks.

A further technical consultation on the detail of the proposals, including appropriate environmental protections and other safeguards, prior to amending the legislation will be necessary. Government will consult with mobile industry representatives, other government departments and regulators Defra, DfT, MoD and Ofcom, and representatives of local planning authorities to ensure that the appropriate environmental protections and other safeguards are in place to mitigate the impact of new mobile infrastructure.

The Code of Best Practice on Mobile Network Development in England which provides guidance to mobile network operators and local planning authorities, will need strengthening. The current code is published jointly by the mobile network networks and was developed through a working group, which included DCMS, Defra, the LGA and National Parks England.

Government’s full document can be found here.