Planning permission is a subject I’ve steered clear of on this blog for one main reason. I don’t have any. I used to have a twenty foot pole on the side of my house with a seventeen foot long 2m beam for over fifteen years along with an 18ft vertical colinear for 2m/70cms, all with no planning permission.
However, once my Alimast tower from Aerial-Parts of Colchester was put up earlier this year I had a feeling that I might have to look into the possibility of applying for planning permission. The mast and Cushcraft MA5B stand out a lot more than the 2m beam ever did.
It all happened quicker than expected though. Less than two weeks after the aerial went up I had a knock on the door from a very pleasant woman who identified herself as being from the local council. She told me that my mast had been brought to their attention and she was investigating. She asked a number of questions about whether it was fixed to the house or an outbuilding, the exact height, whether it could be lowered, how long it had been there and whether I had a licence to use the radio equipment. She also asked about the very small 2m/70cms colinear I now have on the front of the house and the Sirio ‘Gain Master’ which is nailed on the side where the 2m beam used to be.
She told me that I’d receive a letter from them in due course advising whether the mast was a breach of the planning regulations and what should be done. I asked whether I’d need to apply for retrospective permission and she said that I’d be advised that in the letter.
It took almost two months for the letter to arrive and as expected, it confirmed that the work I’d done was in breach of planning regulations, it told me that I should apply for planning permission within 21 days and also said that if I don’t apply for permission then I might experience problems in the future when I come to sell the property. The final paragraph was the important one where it told me that as far as the council were concerned, the case would not be progressed any further.
This confused me somewhat so a few days later I telephoned the local council. The person who visited and wrote to me wasn’t available so I spoke to her colleague who told me that my installation had gone through what he called a ‘harm assessment’ and although it was a breach, it was such a minor breach that they weren’t really bothered by it and would take no further action. He started to tell me about problems when I come to sell the property but after I said that I’d take the mast with me anyway he accepted that there would be no problem.
So although technically I need planning permission for what I’ve done, I don’t actually have to apply and no bad things will come of it.
This is a good example of a local council acting sensibly and I applaud them for it.
I had a hunt around the council website and I found two documents relating to harm assessment which I think are quite interesting so I’m posting them both here as downloadable .pdf files. The first one contains the guidelines and the harm assessment form and the second one is a flowchart showing the procedure.