1. Engagement between communications network provider and local authority to discuss area where deployment is required
The local authority and the network provider are encouraged to engage with each other at the earliest opportunity to discuss deployment plans to minimise costs, time and uncertainty associated with the process for the deployment of fixed and mobile infrastructure, prior to submission of a planning application.
The local authority and the network provider could both identify a Single Point Of Contact (SPOC), who will be the focal points for stakeholders involved in the deployment process.
2. Operator conducts desk research
The local authority could assist with site identification by:
- creating maps and inventories of their assets suitable for digital infrastructure
- sharing information on available district/borough/council assets and infrastructure that could be used to host digital infrastructure with operators
- providing information on the ownership structure of the land as well as key considerations such as the existence of underground services or rights of way and other considerations
3. Operator identifies candidate locations where a new site could be established
Information that the local authority may wish to consider sharing to assist operators to assess the suitability of the public sector sites/assets may include:
- the location of the site
- confirmation that the site meets regulations and is viable for telecoms use
- confirmation that there are no known factors which may impact deployment of telecoms infrastructure
4. Operator requests access from landowners to carry out a site visit
If any candidate sites are public sector assets, the operator should contact the local authority’s digital infrastructure coordinator to obtain access for a site survey.
5. Operator carries out site visit
The local authority may wish to consider providing all relevant background information on the candidate site and facilitate access to it.
The digital infrastructure coordinator and planning authority representatives may wish to be present during the visit to help inform the assessment of whether it is suitable for the installation of digital infrastructure.
To note: Any views expressed by the planning officer views are not binding, and the local planning authority can charge for such pre-application advice.
6. Operator and local authority discuss alternative site if unsuitable
If the site is unsuitable, the local authority may wish to provide information to the operators about alternative public sector assets and infrastructure available.
To note: a workable and viable alternative may not be another local authority asset.
7. Favoured candidate site selected
8. Operator conducts design survey
The operator will prepare as much information as possible, ideally a set of design drawings, for the local planning authority to review. This can allow the local planning authority to comment on the plans and discuss favourable design changes prior to any formal planning application, if needed.
9. Operator submits design and proposal plans to the local authority, who leads a review of design plans
The local authority will review the design plans (e.g. by conducting a structural survey and maintenance checks).
The local authority and the operator may also wish to discuss at this stage what will happen at the end of the agreement period, for example removal of equipment could be a condition of the planning permission, if required.
10. Planning permission application submitted
Operators should seek to provide a consistent level of detail in supporting documents to obtain planning approval.
To note: as some proposals will be de minimis or Permitted Development, there will be no planning decision to make, nor will there be the necessity for the same level of supporting information.
11. Stakeholder consultation
The local authority Digital Champion may be consulted by planning officers, to provide technical advice on the application.
The operator should support the consultation and planning application process in accordance with the Code of Best Practice on Network Development.
12. Planning application approved
13. Lease agreements signed
The local authority and the operator could develop an agreement in writing to: record the agreed terms; ensure the interests of all parties are protected for the duration of the Agreement; and help to avoid disputes.
14. Build radio mast/install radio equipment and commission on to network (power, backhaul, radio testing)
Where an agreement has been signed for use of a public sector assets, local authorities should facilitate access for the build and support with ongoing maintenance and repairs. Please refer to the Street Works Toolkit for further guidance on coordinating Street Works for digital infrastructure deployment.