Boxed in by broadband proposals


Nobody would argue that super-fast broadband is not a 21st century necessity – but the Society has objected to a government proposal to allow telecommunications provider to install cabinets and poles without permission anywhere except in sites of special scientific interest.
 
They would still have to consult local authorities but the company itself would have the power to approve a location – even when it would be visually intrusive in a conservation area or in close proximity to a listed building.
 
The boxes that BT ordered for Brighton and Hove measure 5’3”x4’x18” – the same height as Scarlett Johansson, as wide as a small double bed and as deep as an outside wall – and will be sited close to existing junction boxes (right: existing box top, new boxes below).
 
Our objection reads, “We believe that prior approval should continue to be a requirement where cabinets are being located in conservation areas or in the immediate vicinity of a listed building.
 
“Planning authorities such as Brighton and Hove employ expert conservation officers to advise it on developments in sensitive areas. This results in a good degree of protection for historic buildings and neighbourhoods, which are of intrinsic value to local residents and of economic value in encouraging tourism.
 
“We do not believe that a commercial telecommunication company can reasonably be expected to exercise the same care in protecting our heritage.
 
“We recognise that the proposal includes the development of a code of best practice for adoption by communication providers. However, we are not convinced that a such a code can adequately cover the wide variety of possible locations and their potential impact on local heritage. Each site needs to be considered individually, as is currently being done in Brighton and Hove by the planning authority's conservation team.”
 
We conclude, “We urge strongly that this proposal should be changed so that it excludes not only sites of special scientific interest, but also conservation areas and sites in the immediate vicinity of a listed building.”
 
• You can see the full proposals here.

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