Thumbs Down from Council for Wandsworth Bridge Road Monopole

Latest in spate of applications for 5G Masts up to 20 Metres high

Proposed site of mast by Wandsworth Bridge Road
Proposed site of mast by Wandsworth Bridge Road

H&F Council has refused planning permission for a 17-metre-high monopole and three equipment cabinets surrounding the base to be erected at 316 Wandsworth Bridge Road, on junction with Hugon Road.

This is the latest in a spate of applications for 5G telecoms masts between 15 and 20 metres in height at locations across Fulham and the borough.

The council also gave the thumbs down in recent months to a 20 metre high monopole outside Robert Owen House in Fulham Palace Road and a 15 metre high pole opposite Nacovia House in Townmead Road. In August last year, it turned down a 20-metre-high pole planned for Bishop’s Avenue.

Across the borough, an application for a monopole in Charecroft Way, close to Shepherd’s Bush Green has also been refused, though another in White City’s Australia Road has already been registered.

All these applications, generally made by or on behalf of CK Hutchison which operates the Three network, require prior approval by the council - and all have been refused.

Proposal for mast outside Robert Owen House was refused
Proposal for mast outside Robert Owen House was refused

A letter accompanying the applications from Matt Warman MP from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport emphasises the importance of these mobile base stations in extending 5G coverage. However, the council’s objections to the 15 - 20-metre-high monopoles range from their dominance over its surroundings to safety issues.

In the application Wandsworth Bridge Road, for example, the judgement said, “ The proposed development is considered unacceptable on visual amenity grounds and its impact on the wider locality. More particularly the development, by virtue of its excessive height, bulk and mass, its position close to a prominent junction, and the increase in street furniture, would result in a visually prominent and incongruous development that would harm the character and appearance of the street scene and surrounding area.

“ Furthermore, the applicant has submitted insufficient demonstration that no alternative, preferable sites are available, and the outlined harm to visual amenity is therefore considered to be unjustified.

“ The proposal, by reason of its siting on the footway and proximity to a zebra crossing, would result in negative impacts on the pedestrian and cyclist safety. In particular, during frequent maintenance periods, the footway would be narrowed and would be likely to result in unsafe movement of pedestrians and cyclists and impact upon the use of the zebra crossing.”

The application was for:

Erection of a 17m high slim line monopole together with 6no. antennas; installation of 1no. wraparound equipment cabinet at the base of the monopole, 2no. equipment cabinets, 1no. electric meter cabinet and ancillary development thereto.

It can be seen in full on the council website using the reference 2022/03517/TEL56.

However, these continuing refusals by the council are not the end of the story, because CK Hutchison has launched a number of appeals to The Planning Inspectorate.

While some have been unsuccessful, The Planning Inspectorate did overrule the council and grant consent to a 15-metre-high monopole in Fulham’s Farm Lane.

Visualisation of proposed Farm Lane mast from applicant

In his judgement, the Planning Inspectorate’s David Wyborn conceded that the monopole would cause visual harm to its immediate area, but added, “ I consider that this harm is outweighed by the substantial public benefits which would result from the proposal. Accordingly, I consider that material considerations indicate that the decision should be made otherwise than in accordance with the development plan such that the planning balance falls in favour of prior approval being granted.”

After achieving this success, further appeals against the council’s decisions can be expected in the future.

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February 6, 2023