Planning permission – I had a visit and a letter from the council

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.


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  1. Interesting Keith, I like that local council over there. I don’t have any planning permission (building permit here) for my masts. Since I’m in a small village and the mast is far from the house no one bothers I think. Never had a visit or a letter from the council. But in my previous QTH it was another story, luckely never had any problems to get such a permission. In the Netherlands you have a max height of 5m above the house or above the ground whatever the antenna is attached to, above it you need a building permit. Some councils especially in dense populated areas are not to keen on antennamasts and some radioamateurs have a lot of trouble getting a permit here. 73, Bas

  2. Gerry McGowan M0VAA

    Well done Keith. I’m in a similar situation with my Optibeam wirebeam and Steppir vertical.
    Coincidentally the planner called round today and had a chat with me about my installation. It appears there have been 4 written objections to the application and 1 in support. It will now have to go to the local committee where I get the chance to stand up and make a speech.
    Your harm assessment info will be useful.
    Thanks and 73 Gerry M0VAA

  3. Roger Baines G3YBO

    Glad all is well with your mast and antennas…….Likewise I had a run in with the Council after
    I put up a wind up mast, it took just a few days and four letters against my mast and a HF
    antenna……It went to planning and I got the news I could keep it. I had antennas up for over
    eight years before this but the wind up mast did bring the man from the Council to see me.

    Good luck Keith

    Roger G3YBO

  4. nice to see planners being sensible for a change.
    i will use this illustration to those in Shepway, where, unfortunately someone put up a 60ft tower with big HF yagi without permission.
    this has prejudiced all antenna applications in the area owing to an arch NIMBY getting the wind up her!

  5. Hi Keith, A bit late but not been on here for a bit. Interesting way of assessing your mast & beam. My daughter is a planning officer and I asked her about the “Harm” forms. Seems not a national assessment, but a local way of doing things. She said ” Don’t expect other councils to do the same” i.e. no two councils will go down the same route.
    You’ve been very lucky. 73 Bob

  6. yey the same is happening here, council man came today and hes ment to be sending me an email next week, we’ll see…..

  7. So the email said to replace the antenna with a 100cm one so i wasted 50 quid and got one but broke the w-2000 whilst taking it down, 90 quid down the pan, but he came today and said that he ment the mast too but no where in his letter did he mention the mast, only the antenna.
    so because of his error he gave me till the 17th to take it down.
    he also said that it had to be 100cm from the ground but having it on the roof was fine. but that would be over 100cm from the ground wouldnt it?
    it also says on here that its not including mountings and the mast is a mounting.

    confused and annoyed :/


  8. 20 years ago I wanted to put up my 36ft telescopic tower on the back of my house in the middle of the town. The small garden was overlooked by several others but sounding out my neighbours none said they had any objections. Went in to local planning office and asked if planning was required for it. Bloke asked if it was freestanding (no, bolted to the back of the house on a 6ft standoff), was it visible from the road (no, not when lowered) and when I said it was tiltover (I put some heavy duty hinges on the bottom to allow me to tilt it down for maintenance) he said no PP required, so I had a 36ft mast in the middle of a conservation area! Never had any complaints for the several years it was up.
    Now looking at getting my 60ft versatower up in the garden. Neighbours quite happy (since one even gave me a hand to collect it from the site!) so don’t expect any trouble on that count but not sure if I should go for PP just in case, though presumably as a tiltover it could be called a temp structure?

    1. I don’t think tilting over counts as a temporary structure. 60ft is quite a height though, I’d be tempted to ask the neighbours for letters of support and take a trip to the planning office for advice before I just put up a 60ft mast.

  9. Let’s also not forget the four year rule: if after four years of emplacement, no action has been brought, then the authority shall not bring any action.

    In other words, if you’ve had a mast and antenna up for four years, and hopefully have images showing, for example, your kids as kids and not adults as they now are, or an old car you got rid of five years ago, then there is bugger all anyone can do.

    Also, I am concerned about the inappropriate claims of ‘problems selling a house’ with no planning. This is not really for the authority to invovle itself with; a prospective buyer could well be entirely happy with buying a house with no planning for the antenna, especially if it has been there for a long time and so is immune from any action.

    Also, if you do get queries from your prospective purchasers, you can pay for a one-off insurance in their favour that, at last count, cost about £40-£50. From three experiences, I have yet to see any house not sell when that is offered, because all their liabilities are covered by this standalone insurance. You can normally only buy a policy through your solicitor. It is also not in any sense an unusual thing to do, because there is always something that doesn’t have the right documents (planning, building regs, etc, etc.)

  10. A council is not mandated to intimidate people with spectres of difficulty in selling a property if you have no planning approval. They have a legal right to enforce the planning rules, or leave you alone. I assume from your information that the legal position is that, even though they came to visit and did the harm assessment, they have not taken enforcement action. So after four years, the structure’s immune from planning law anyway, leaving you with no problem whatsoever.

    On the matter of selling a house when you have no planning permission, this is almost always a non-issue. That’s because you can ask your solicitor for an indemnity policy in favour of the purchasers, so that if someone comes to enforce a law, they are compensated for their loss. Offering this indemnity has been accepted by every buyer without a hitch in three house sales I’ve made. You can only buy them through a solicitor.

    The last time (about 2010) I bought such a policy, it was only £40 one-off for the insurance. That’s ten times cheaper than a planning application, and no headaches. You might conclude that in may cases, it’s preferably to getting into a headbanging few months of senseless debate with planning departments! The indemnity will cover jsut about all eventualities, including building regulations. Ask your solicitor about these very useful and bargain policies!

  11. thank you for information
    got reported two years ago as change of antenna on mast so took large hf triband down .just this week got letter reported yet again this time 2m beam antenna on same mast the antenna been up over 18 month, letter of this time states new antenna and does on about retrospective planning , as this is a change of antenna to a mast which as been up for years with out planning would i have to pay a fee of £172.
    also two years ago the lpa personal told me as the antenna could be seen from rear of my garage any permision would not be granted

  12. hello everyone I have six foot pole with a 18 foot collinear aerial on top on an eaves mounting I’ve had it up since august 2010 so I should be orite on the four year ruling
    but I’m thinking of putting it four foot higher
    would I need to contact my local department for this?

    1. For the sake of four foot, I’d just do it and not worry about it.

  13. think I must be one of the lucky ones.
    took some doing but I have the original sigma 4 on 30ft of scaffolding gutter height.its well guided mind.only issue I have is one of the neibours fears of hanging her washing on the line when its windy can be a little eary lol.also have a gainmaster on the stack on a 15ft pole.never had any issues from the council so far……touch wood.
    sigma has been up there for some 10yrs now,really must get it down and give it a wee service.gainmaster was erected 4 yrs ago to replace my old electronica special from the 80’s…..I love my old antenna’s and in the process of restoring my old clr2.

  14. I’ve read, that you need planning, permission to erect a flag pole, over 15 feet.
    Is this because, of the flag etc… meaning, if I buy a 20 foot, flag pole, but don’t mount a flag on it, this is ok????…

    I’m hoping to set up, a wire antenna, as a secondary HF antenna, to my vertical.
    The pole isn’t very thick, and you can build it up, in 4, 5foot lengths.

    I will be adding, a plastic covered, nylon washing line, about 6 foot up.

    And at the top, the tie off point for my wire, antenna.

    Any thoughts? There are trees higher, but sadly, not on my land…
    I was thinking, of adding some scrim net, or other camouflage to the top, 5 foot.
    Or paint it etc… to make, the silver grey pole, stand out less, and not reflect the sun as well etc….

    Any thoughts, would be greatly, appreciated.

  15. I seem to remember reading something about flagpoles being allowed without planning permission providing they’re flying a national flag. My best advice is to approach your local council and innocently ask the question 🙂

    73 Keith.

  16. I needed planning permission for a 2.5 metre dish antenna which was laying flat on the ground used for radio astronomy. I argued that the dish was not a sat dish therefore outside the planning regulations. After planning permission was granted and paying £160 pounds. Eastleigh council changed the wording for rules covering aerials to —–and other microwave aerials. By the way the council even asked the local airport if they had any objections!

  17. mr alan f gilham (m6tid).

    i would like to put a small 2 mtr antenna (diamond x30 co-linear) on a small pole outside on the side wall of my one bedroom flat at the moment i have it in my very small loft space. i just want to know will i need planing permission from my local council to fit it out side.

  18. My G5RV has been up over Ten years,
    i submitted photographic evidence from 2005,
    but they have ignored that, and have chosen to,
    to serve me an order in One months time, to remove it.

    To add the twist, my 5RV goes over Private land,
    that the resident have Fly Tipped on, over the past Ten years
    they wont address the fly tipping, after submitting a complaint about it.

    The service notice states, (171a) 1
    My aerial has NOT been up more than 4 or 10 years,
    and that the 5RV detracts from the neighborhood.

    The 5RV is directly over the fly tipped land 15 ft in height.

    So now i have to appeal,
    hopefully the appeal, can read a digital .jpg,
    and ascertain the original EXIF creation date.

    Lots of fun…

    1. Hi Mark,
      Really sorry to hear that North East Lincolnshire council are being so draconian in their ways. I wonder if you’re able to find google maps images from some time back that will help with your appeal.

      It’s also worth talking to the RSGB as I understand they are quote helpful when it comes to planning issues. I’ve not dealt with them myself though so I don’t know what they can offer.

      Good luck though.

      73 Keith.

      1. My next door neighbour asked me to move my dipole after 3 days of being put up
        It’s between the houses and doesn’t invade her space
        I might try the harm assessment approach with the council
        If that fails I will have to ask the council to issue removal notices to all the households in the area to remove the 10 or 12 foot poles on their roofers with tv antennas more than 100cm in length including the busybody next door

        Any thoughts

        1. No but in reply, is that the John who used to be in Enfield many years ago?

  19. I had planning trouble with a two over two 2 metre aerial, at the side of my house and a walkway, I had it up for over four yrs so I won. However the kind man over the road was on my case asking if my aerial was causing trouble with his TV, I replied ” No ,just get the aerial lying on your roof fixed”.

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