12. 1 Public utility services require infrastructure works and structures for electricity, gas, water supply, sewerage and telecommunications services. The Council will liaise on overall provision, and will generally support development for operational needs, unless there are overriding environmental or other planning objections. Utility services are provided by private sector companies that enjoy a range of permitted development rights, so that the Council has limited control over these operations and uses in many instances. Even where this is the case, however, the Council will request details of siting and appearance and possibly revisions, where there are particular local designations, or similar planning issues.
12. 2 The Local Plan Utilities policies and proposals have been prepared in the light of government advice and the Essex and Southend-on-Sea Replacement Structure Plan.
12. 3 The Council’s overall aims in relation to utilities provision are to ensure that electricity, telecommunications and other operational development are appropriately sited and designed, with minimum environmental or other effects, including those relating to visual amenity, nature conservation, health, and cultural heritage. The needs of people with impaired mobility or vision are also relevant, especially in the location and design of street furniture.
12. 4 The Council seeks to secure the appropriate use of land in the District, including land in operational use. The re-use or redevelopment of surplus operational land should therefore be discussed at the earliest stage. The Council also has an important role in liaising with utilities providers on the provision and improvement of services, to ensure that location and design are taken into account.
12. 5 Express planning permission is not required for proposals for overhead electricity transmission lines. The Council is entitled to be consulted under the Electricity Act 1989, and will seek alterations to siting and design where proposals affect the character or setting of particular planning interests, such as Conservation Areas, sites of archaeological or nature conservation interest. A similar approach will be taken where proposals are made by other utilities providers enjoying permitted development, or equivalent rights.
Proposals for development required for the operational needs of utilities serving the public will be supported and approved where applicable, subject to their acceptability on environmental and amenity grounds in terms of the other policies in this Plan. In considering proposals the Council will take into account existing levels of infrastructure, technical and operational requirements and opportunities for the sharing of sites, facilities and installations.
12. 6 One of the key purposes of PPG8 Telecommunications is to seek to establish a balance between the emerging and rapidly increasing importance of personal telecommunications in national economic and social life, and legitimate environmental, amenity and other planning issues. The need to establish and consolidate networks has resulted in increasing numbers of proposals for masts and other apparatus, whether requiring formal permission (as referred to in the section of PPG8 dealing with larger telecommunications), or the minor developments which enjoy permitted development rights.
12. 7 Proposals for new masts and apparatus will only be supported if there are overriding reasons why the sharing of existing installations cannot act as an alternative. In addition, the Council considers that areas with special designations (such as Conservation Areas) do warrant a more critical approach to telecommunications as well as other forms of development. This view is supported in PPG8. There may be particular concerns over siting and design of masts in such designated areas. Whilst arbitrary restrictions such as mast height will not automatically be imposed across the District, proposals raising particular environmental or amenity issues will be treated particularly carefully in terms of long range views and setting issues. Regard will nevertheless be had to technical and operational constraints when considering proposals.
Development Proposals for telecommunications development must first consider the sharing of masts and sites, in order to reduce the proliferation of structures. Where it can be proven that this is not possible, new telecommunications development will be permitted where it accords with the following criteria:
(a) its siting, design, height and any screening keep environmental and amenity impacts to a minimum (see (d) below);
(b) new masts and other installations are sited and designed to harmonise with any existing structures on the site, especially their height and profile;
(c) measures to reduce the proliferation of structures, including mast sharing and additional underground or other infrastructure works, are not practicable; and
(d) they preserve or enhance the setting of Conservation Areas and Listed Buildings, and there is no conflict with the settings of Registered Parks and Gardens, areas of archaeological, landscape or nature conservation interest and similar areas with special designations.
Permissions will be subject to a condition requiring the removal of all telecommunications apparatus and equipment when its use becomes redundant.