Agenda item

Planning Application No. SL/2019/0588 - Footway on north side of Oakwood Drive, opposite Hazel Tree Road, Ulverston

To determine an application for the installation of a 17.5m high replica telegraph pole with 6no. antennas and 3no. radio equipment cabinets ancillary thereto.

Minutes:

Installation of a 17.5m high replica telegraph pole with 6no. antennas and 3no. radio equipment cabinets ancillary thereto.

 

Note - Councillor Janette Jenkinson declared a non-pecuniary interest in this item by virtue of the fact she was a Member of Ulverston Town Council. She remained in the meeting during discussion and voting on the item.

 

Councillor David Webster declared a non-pecuniary interest in this item by virtue of the fact he was a Member of Ulverston Town Council and had been lobbied in respect of the item but had had no involvement. He remained in the meeting during discussion and voting on the item.

 

The Interim Development Management Team Leader presented Planning Application No. SL/2019/0588 which sought full planning permission for the installation of a 17.5m tall slim line telecommunications monopole with associated ground level equipment cabinets. He displayed plans and photographs which outlined the proposals and referred to the site visit. The Interim Development Management Team Leader drew Members’ attention to the design of the mast which would replicate a telegraph pole with GRP textured dark brown wood-effect cladding with a series of internal antennae systems incorporated within the mast. He outlined the planning history of the application which included refusals, by the Planning Committee, in 2009 and 2017 and went on to explain that since the 2017 refusal the applicant had explored more than 13 alternative sites all of which had been discounted for technical or land ownership reasons. He explained that the design of the mast had been changed to reduce the visual impact and was the same as used in sensitive areas such as National Parks. He concluded his presentation by informing Members that the proposed development would not have an adverse impact on local visual amenity and was, on balance, considered to meet the requirements of policies CS8.10 and DMDPD DM2. The Chairman drew Members’ attention to the Late Representation from Ulverston Town Council, which had been circulated prior to the meeting, and the Interim Development Management Team Leader confirmed that the points raised within the Late Representation had been addressed within the report and did not raise further material planning consideration.

 

Mr Nicholas Knibbs, a local resident and Chairman of Croftlands Community Group, addressed the Committee. He began by emphasising the importance of democracy and outlined the decision made, by the Planning Committee in 2017, to reject the application. Mr Knibbs went on to explain that Ulverston Town Council had unanimously refused the plan on several occasions stating that it did not want the structure at the proposed location. He stated that in 2017 the community had felt it had won the struggle however, the victory was short lived as the applicant had claimed deemed consent, due to a deadline being missed, and work was scheduled to commence. Mr Knibbs informed the Committee that the community had fought long and hard to prove the deemed consent unlawful and in the end were proved correct and the applicant withdrew deemed consent.

 

Mr Knibbs stated that nothing had changed with the new application other than the colour of the mast and that it would still be a huge monstrosity right outside houses. The proposal was as unacceptable in 2019 as it was in 2017 and he asked the Committee to be mindful of the facts and refuse the application. Mr Knibbs made reference to alternative sites and to a mast which had been sited near Bardsea golf course and he went on to highlight contradictory reasons, given by the applicant, for a number of unsuitable locations.

 

Mrs Pat Appleton, a local resident and member of the Croftlands Community Group, addressed the Planning Committee. She informed the Committee that this was the applicant’s third attempt in 10 years to secure planning permission and permission had been refused in 2009 and 2017 and she expressed thanks to Ulverston Town Council for their support. Mrs Appleton went on to state that following the refusals one would have thought it would have been the end of the story but was in fact just the beginning, as the applicant had assumed deemed consent due to a delay in the decision notice being issued. Mrs Appleton explained that resident’s frustration and anger remained and that there had been over 100 letters of objection to the siting of the mast in a busy housing estate. She stated that Vodafone appeared determined to site the mast in the same location. Mrs Appleton informed Members that nothing had changed since the original application in 2009 except that the mast was now 17.5 metres high and that no matter how Vodafone tried to disguise the mast it would, as quoted by Mark Lynch in his report, ‘introduce a new unusual feature into the area and would have a noticeable impact’.

 

Mrs Appleton concluded her address by stating that, in 10 years, surely it would have been possible for Vodafone to identify an alternative suitable site and she proposed that the mast should be sited sympathetically and that there were more suitable sites and that it was important to learn from past mistakes.

 

Mr Daniel Bowles, a local resident, addressed the Committee. He stated that he objected to the proposed mast installation and offered a number of points which he felt were worthy of consideration which included: the prominence of the mast; the comparative scale of the mast; and the visual and social impact of the mast. Mr Bowles went on to inform Members that the proposed mast would be 57 feet tall and would not be in keeping with the domestic scale of the surrounding area. In addition the mast would have an adverse visual impact on the neighbouring residential amenities. Mr Bowles stated that in Croftlands it would be more a question of who could not see the mast than who could. The mast would have an adverse visual impact on the street scene and would be harmful to the character and appearance of the area. The mast would be out of keeping with the village feel of Croftlands and would lower the tone of the area by its adverse visual impact and by the resentment and anger felt by residents who, he stated, felt bullied by the corporate muscle of Vodafone. Mr Bowles concluded his address by highlighting the 100 plus objections which had been submitted by residents who had seen two previous applications rejected. 

 

Ms Ginny Hall, the Applicant’s Agent, addressed the Committee. She highlighted to Members that the Officer recommendation had been noted and she informed Members that the current application site was the most suitable option and that the applicant had considered landscaping options. She went on to outline the technical requirements for the mast and explained that in order to meet customer demand the applicant had been looking for a suitable site in the area since 2009. Ms Hall highlighted the dependence on mobile connectivity and the demand for improved 4G coverage. She explained that locating the mast outside the area was not compatible with the demands. She went on to inform Members that the applicant had taken a sequential approach in considering 17 alternative options and the proposed site was the most suitable location which could offer improved coverage with minimum impact. Ms Hall concluded her address by highlighting that since the 2017 application the appearance of the mast had been improved, with the antenna stacked on top and a slimmer profile and had been designed to avoid an industrial appearance by replicating a telegraph pole with GRP textured dark brown wood-effect cladding.   

 

In further presenting the report the Interim Development Management Team Leader informed the Committee that the report acknowledged that the application was a sensitive and controversial proposal, particularly for those who lived in the local area. However, there was an identified need for improved 4G coverage in the area and the applicant had licence obligations to provide a minimum level of signal coverage, therefore there was a need to balance the needs of the applicant and the desires of the local community. He went on to explain that the application was supported by Government Policy and the Local Plan Policies. The Interim Development Management Team Leader responded to concerns raised during public participation and stated that the applicant had demonstrated that there was no other feasible site and had sought to address concerns regarding the visual impact of the previous schemes. In addition the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) set out clear national planning policy in support of this type of application.

 

The Interim Development Management Team Leader responded to questions raised by Members. He confirmed that Development Management was satisfied with the applicant’s approach and conclusion in exploring 13 alternative options. He advised Members that there was no intention to remove any trees and he referred to the Arboricultural Officer’s comments within the report.  He went on to outline the licence obligations of a telecommunications code system operator to provide a minimum level of high quality coverage to its customers.

 

Members referred to the site visit and gave consideration to the increasing customer demand for 4G and 5G services in the area and the fact that the applicant had altered the design of the mast to reduce the visual impact. They considered the three ground level equipment cabinets and agreed that these were more obvious than the mast and that consideration should be given to reducing the visual impact of them by having them finished in a more subdued colour. They went on to consider the height of the mast and whether they were satisfied that all alternative site options had been explored.

 

RESOLVED – That Planning Application SL/2019/0588 be granted subject to the following conditions:-

 

Standard Control

 

Condition (1)   The development hereby permitted shall be commenced before the expiration of THREE YEARS from the date hereof.

 

Reason            To comply with the requirements of Section 91 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 as amended by Section 51 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004.

 

Condition (2)   The development hereby permitted shall be carried out in accordance with the following approved plans:

1.         100 F site location maps

2.         201 H proposed site plan

3.         301 H proposed site elevation

 

Reason            For the avoidance of doubt and in the interests of proper planning.

 

Condition (3)   The development hereby permitted shall be constructed using materials and finishes as specified in the approved plans listed in condition 02, unless otherwise agreed in writing with the Local Planning Authority.

 

Reason            For the avoidance of doubt and in the interests of proper planning.

 

Condition (4)   Notwithstanding the requirements of condition 3 above, the mast hereby approved shall not be brought into use until the three ancillary equipment cabinets have been repainted in a dark grey colour, the specification of which shall be agreed beforehand with the Local Planning Authority. The equipment cabinets shall be retained in that colour thereafter unless otherwise agreed in writing with the Local Planning Authority.

 

Reason:           To ensure the development is of a high quality design in accordance with Policy DM2 of the Development Management Policies Development Plan Document and Policy CS8.10 of the South Lakeland Core Strategy.

Supporting documents: