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Lawbite - ‘Mast’ered the definition but it’s still not permitted

  • United Kingdom
  • Litigation and dispute management

09-07-2019

R (on the application of Mawbey) and others v Cornerstone Telecommunications Infrastructure Ltd [2019] EWCA Civ 1016

The Claimant, a neighbouring home owner, brought a claim for judicial review of the decision to grant the Defendant, CTIL a licence to erect apparatus on a roof of a block of flats on the basis that the apparatus did not fall within the confines of permitted development pursuant to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (“the GPDO”).

CTIL installed 9 antennae mounted in groups on the 4 corners of the plant room on the roof of the building. Each antennae was supported by an antennae pole attached by a yoke arm to one of the 4 central support poles.

The High Court found in favour of the Claimant - the central support poles were masts and not permitted development under the GPDO which stipulates that a “mast” is not permitted development if:

  1. it is on a building less than 15 metres high; and
  2. within 20 metres of a highway

CTIL appealed the Judge’s finding and the appeal turned on the definition of “mast” at paragraph A.4 of Part 16 of Schedule 2 of the GPDO which is simply “a radio mast or a radio tower”.

The Court of Appeal found that there was no good argument for any different understanding of the term “mast” from that adopted by the High Court Judge – a “mast” is an upright pole or a lattice-work structure, whose function was to support an antenna or aerial.

Having determined that the apparatus was in fact a “mast”, it did not fall within the confines of permitted development pursuant to the GPDO.

Key points

  • the definition of “mast” at paragraph A.4 of Part 16 of Schedule 2 is vague to say the least - consideration of the term “mast” by both the High Court and the Court of Appeal is extremely helpful for both operators and landowners.
  • this case will help landowners/site providers to assess whether operators can seek to rely on permitted development rights to erect apparatus on their sites or whether express planning permission is required