How do you camouflage a street cabinet?
The situation with regards to Openreach and others adding more telecoms infrastructure into areas is an on going one, and with changes to planning rules underway to make roll-out simpler underway it is enlightening to see what the House of Lords has to say on the matter.
Lord Howarth of Newport asked the following question in the House of Lords, "To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have so far received about their plan to allow broadband street cabinets to be installed without the prior approval of local planning authorities.". This received responses from a mixture but the response from Viscount Younger of Leckie is worth reproduction.
"I can understand the noble Lord's concerns. However, the changes to the formal planning process do not mean that broadband providers have carte blanche to install street cabinets or poles wherever or whenever it suits them. They must still notify planning authorities of their siting plans and consider requests for changes to be made. In exceptional circumstances, planning authorities can remove permitted rights to develop by using an Article 4 direction. The main broadband suppliers have agreed to develop a code of practice with DCMS whereby the siting of cabinets must have regard to proximity to any existing street furniture, minimising the visual impact and of course ensuring optimum safety on the streets. Sensitivity to locals is the byword, with planning and assessment made in advance."Viscount Younger of Leckie, in the House of Lords
There was some consternation at the size of the new FTTC cabinets, but this was soothed with the news that there are plans afoot to camouflage them, and even the idea of holding a design competition to produce something less perfunctory.
While Openreach has deployed around 30,000 FTTC cabinets already. it seems many in the House of Lords have not seen them, or it may be that they live in areas where councils are rejecting applications. Cabinet PCP 023 on the junction of Acacia Road and Woronzow Road close to Regents Park had its planning application rejected in July 2011 after an original application in May 2011, and the postcode appears to be still waiting for a cabinet to be delivered. The application was rejected because of concerns of damage to the roots of a Lime tree, and the cabinet may reduce the security of a property.
In theory a full fibre deployment that requires only passive infrastructure would overcome many objections to new street cabinets, but there is still the issue of pavement chambers to house optical splitters, in addition to the not insignificant additional costs of running the fibres to points close to every property.