Appeal instigated after Corby 5g phone mast application turned down despite town's dearth of coverage

The mast was planned for an industrial site near Tesco

The proposed site on an industrial estate in Corby.
The proposed site on an industrial estate in Corby.

An application for a 15m-high 5g mobile phone mast in an industrial area of Corby has been turned down because officers say it will harm the appearance of the street.

The Three network had said that the mast would improve 3g, 4g and 5g coverage in the area around St Mark's Road.

But after asking North Northamptonshire Council for permission, their application was refused. Now they have launched an appeal against the decision.

Corby lags behind its neighbours, with none of the networks currently providing 5g coverage (shown in purple on the map)

Corby lags behind its neighbours in terms of the level of network coverage, with none of the four major networks yet providing any 5g coverage at all in the town. Although some masts have recently been installed, they are not yet believed to be

The applicant CK Hutchison Networks operates as Three, the fourth-largest mobile network operator in the United Kingdom, with coverage of 99 per cent of the country.

The firm had asked NNC whether prior approval was needed to put up the 15m-high monopole telecommunications mast on the grass verge at the side entrance to the TA building in St Mark's Road, opposite the Tesco garage. It would include six antennas and two transmission dishes, and four equipment cabinets.

The equipment was designed to help the roll-out of 5g across the town and the predicted acceleration in data usage.

How the mast might look

Generally, 5g masts need to be taller because the signals are shorter, do not travel as far and need to transmit over and down to users, rather than through buildings.

The prior approval procedure allows telecommunications firms to avoid the full planning process by asking councils for permission to install masts of up to 20m which must be granted or refused within 56 days. The authority can only consider location and the appearance of the mast but cannot object to the principle of the mast.

There were no objections from the council's own environmental and highway departments and none from members of the public. There are no homes in the street, with the nearest residents living on the opposite side of Oakley Road.

North Northamptonshire Council decided in August that prior approval for the mast at St Mark's Road was needed, but refused to grant approval. Their decision notice read: "It is accepted that the site is located within a commercial area with little or no impact on the neighbouring residential properties and the monopole, while being taller than the existing street furniture, will not significantly harm the visual amenity of the street scene.

"However, the installation of the overall communication equipment with associated paving slab on a green verge (green infrastructure) with extensive footprint will result to a significant loss of the green verge, and couple with the bulk and massing of the overall equipment in a prominent location will considerably harm the visual amenity of the street scene and fail to enhance the character and qualities of the local landscape.

"Furthermore, the equipment will be cited at the centre of the green verge adjacent to the pavement, it would be a nuisance to pedestrians especially given its proximity to a lay-by.

"On balance, therefore, it is considered that collectively there are sufficient concerns arising from the proposed siting and appearance of this development to render it unacceptable in these terms and thus harmful to the visual amenity of the area. It is therefore recommended that prior approval be refused for this development."

An appeal was lodged by the applicant on October 13.

Previous applications for phone masts have usually been given permission in Corby. In July last year officers decided a 20m mast in Lammas Road did not need prior approval. Then in August a similar application in Lyveden Way did not need prior approval. This March, officers hae permission for a 25m mast in Jubilee Avenue to

In May, officers decided an application for a 20m mast in Butland Road did not need prior approval.

But last June a similar application just a few metres away in Oakley Road, for the same 20m mast, was turned down.

In East Northamptonshire villages, three out of five recent applications have been turned down.