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Bill to cut broadband roll-out red tape goes before Parliament
Friday 19 October 2012 14:01:15 by Andrew Ferguson

On Thursday 18th October the Growth and Infrastructure Bill was put to Parliament. The bill aims to boost the economy by reducing the amount of red tape in many areas of business in the UK. The news back in September that the bill would seek to remove the requirement for planning permission in Conservation Areas when broadband and mobile phone/broadband street furniture is being installed was not universally welcomed, with worries that it may give a green light to telco's to ignore local objections and create eye sores on street corners.

The going to Parliament for the first time does not mean changes are going to happen overnight, if the changes make it through Parliament we are not expecting changes until the middle of 2013.

"The Bill will help clear the way for the UK to have the fastest broadband of any major European country by helping sweep away red tape, which in turn will allow broadband street cabinets and other infrastructure to be installed rapidly without requiring lengthy state approval across many local authority boundaries. This will cut the costs and bureaucracy incurred in giving workers and businesses access to high speed internet, and help much needed rural super-fast broadband roll out.

The Government wants 90 per cent of people to have access to super-fast broadband and is investing £680 million in super-fast broadband. It is investing £530 million to take broadband to rural areas and a further £150 million on urban broadband. Approval to install broadband street cabinets and other infrastructure"

Broadband component of Growth and Infrastructure Bill - Background

This portrayal of the bulk of the BDUK money is to be spent on rural areas is very misleading, the stated ambition of the BDUK is 'to provide superfast broadband to at least 90 per cent of premises in the UK and to provide universal access to standard broadband with a speed of at least 2Mbps'. Given that the accepted coverage of superfast broadband will be 66% of UK households, then the BDUK website and this bill gives an impression that is confusing members of the public who as they live in towns and other areas of they UK that are not by their definition they believe the BDUK processes will pass them by.

The reality is that the EU defines just 13% of UK households as rural, so the bulk of BDUK funding is likely to not actually go into the rural areas. Some local authorites may negotiate contracts pushing the superfast network deeper into the rural areas, but the central ambition as it stands means that spending on superfast broadband will mainly be a suburban project, the spending to ensure 2 Mbps as a minumum speed will of course extend across all parts of the UK. There is the smaller £20m of RCBF funding aimed at the purely rural areas, but in the grand scheme this is almost a token offering.


Posted by Bob_s2 over 4 years ago
I cannot see this making much difference. In general very few cabinets are in conservation areas. THe few that are are not normally aa problemif they discuss withthe council their proposals before proceeding.

Frequently at present BT just submit an application and if it gerts turned down just forget about it.

Even though planning permision will not be reequired they will still need to obtain consent from the council
Posted by GMAN99 over 4 years ago
How frequently?
Posted by Spectre_01 over 4 years ago
More rubbish from bob, BT typically submit upto 2 applications, the original then a revised application to try address the reason(s) for rejection then yes they move on and the cabinate in question goes to the bottom of the list...

Its a big rollout and every time BT have to submit a new application it is both costing extra and delaying the overall rollout and for what? to try and appease a local authority that is likely rejecting applications just to drum up more revenue for itself?!
Posted by Spectre_01 over 4 years ago
At least with this approach if the council wants to get serious they can and if this bill goes through then some of the nonsense will vanish.

Seriously bob why do you insist on spouting rubbish, your only going to get publicly corrected on it anyway. Please learn something about code powers and planning permission.
Posted by Dixinormous over 4 years ago
Spectre_01 - in my experience local authorities were not objecting applications to generate revenue - it costs them money to process them as well.

The rejections I've seen were, for the most part, perfectly understandable and appropriate and others were on technicalities which the council was bound to enforce.

Once BT's contractor got their act together, stopped spamming with junk and actually took a little while to properly plan nearly all applications were approved.
Posted by Spectre_01 over 4 years ago
Yeah much like the case of a Colchester Council's planning office rejecting premission over things like tree roots...

be intresting to see how Kensington council gets on if the bill is passed since they didn't appear to want any Openreach FTTC...
Posted by Dixinormous over 4 years ago
Well played ignoring that BT hadn't demonstrated there would be >1.2m of foot path left - note the objection from the Highway Authority.

Presumably they objected for the extra revenue as well?

When you've spent some time campaigning for cabinets and discussing issues with planning officers it may give you some more perspective rather than blindly accusing them of rejecting cabinets to produce more revenue.

Rules are rules, Openreach et al know them, and in a fair few cases didn't bother to follow them. Slap dash, fast and loose.
Posted by Dixinormous over 4 years ago
Incidentally - I agree that some objections are for pretty asinine reasons but planning authorities have a list of things they have to go by and making SFBB isn't one of them.

They are people to, and their backsides are on the line if people complain about their decisions so they have to go by the guidelines they have in hand.

The second application is much better than the first - notice it actually includes the REQUIRED measurements for pavement clearance, but rules are rules, not there for revenue generation.
Posted by Spectre_01 over 4 years ago
Posted by Dixinormous about 1 hour ago
"Well played ignoring that BT hadn't demonstrated there would be >1.2m of foot path left - note the objection from the Highway Authority."

Wrong, because no pavement exists:
Posted by Spectre_01 over 4 years ago
in anycase the planning diagrams showed the DSLAM cabinate well clear of any future footpath:

leaving over 1.9m of clearance. The problem is this kind of council planning refusal is widespread not just a 1 off as in this example, hence the bill and the need for greater code powers because leave it to the council projects like this see massive delays for stupid reasons.
Posted by Bob_s2 over 4 years ago
Planning applications for the cabinets are BT's responsibility and not their contractors.In my experience with councils if you approach the planning department with the proposals before formally submitting them you have a 99% of a first time pass

Someone seemed to think that not approving an application because of tree routes was inappropriate. In conservation area there is a high probability that there was a Tree Protection order in place
Posted by Bob_s2 over 4 years ago
Posted by Spectre_01 about 3 hours ago
Yeah much like the case of a Colchester Council's planning office rejecting premission over things like tree roots.

That was REJECTED for valid reasons. THe Tree is covered by a Tree Preservation Order
Posted by Spectre_01 over 4 years ago
And yet the same council were happy to have a new housing estate built in the same conservation area! BT were never going to put the DSLAM on the path or cut any of the trees down so in fact the trees would have always been preserved. Looking at the original letter of rejection, the council basically objected to the look of the new cabinate and how it would detract from the street's character, then sited some nonsense about safety.
Posted by Spectre_01 over 4 years ago
BT's contract had also submitted details of how works are carried out near trees so no danger of damage there:

Basically when you look at the work put into the planning app and then the short letter refusing its plain to see the council were happy to take the money for the planning app and do very little work in actually looking at it.
Posted by ahockings over 4 years ago
I find the amounts they bandy about minuscule and unlikely to make much difference. £680 million is nothing when it comes to rolling out Superfast. 10 times that would perhaps make a difference..
Posted by Dixinormous over 4 years ago
You'll excuse me if I don't take an image from April 2009 while the estate was being constructed as being authoritative.

The contractors own diagrams appear to disagree with that streetview and note pavements being in place.

The copy/paste from the contractors may or may not have been considered relevant by the council. Your sycophancy to Openreach doesn't change that their various contractors got it magnificently wrong nationwide.
Posted by Dixinormous over 4 years ago
Unless, of course, you consider their building in conservation areas without seeking planning permission as being adequate, or applying to put a cabinet on a pavement without demonstrating the free space on the pavement in their application.

Openreach's contractors have done both of these in my local area, their incompetence in the second instance costing me FTTC.

OR contractors are so incompetent that they are blatantly lying to Openreach. You'll excuse me if I have a somewhat cynical view of them.
Posted by eviemai2011 over 4 years ago
Why are we bothered talking about FTTC in the first place. We should be looking at direct FTTH/P this saves on planning permission for the cabinets.
Posted by hugop over 4 years ago
eviemai2011 - exactly my thoughts. In rural areas FTTC is a complete red herring as you might just as well go FTTP. Cabinets may be a small part of that mix, but not as prevalent as in an FTTC architecture, which is why councils are more willing to support FTTP in rural situations, so long as the finances can be made to stack up.
Posted by Bob_s2 over 4 years ago
Costs would be far to high at present for FTTP in rural areas. IT is still to expensive in Urban areas so the sums will certainly not add up in rural areas unlees people in rural areas are prepared to pay very considerably more for Broadband.

It is the true rural areas that BDUL are looking to provide the 2mbs service.
Posted by Spectre_01 over 4 years ago
^ What he said.
Posted by GMAN99 over 4 years ago

Why? cost of course
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