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This proposal has now progressed to a formal “Prior notification” submission, for which the documents can be accessed at 23/00843/PNT on the Council’s planning portal. A “prior notification” is an application to tell the planning authority about certain proposals which the applicant believes benefit from “permitted development rights”, so that the authority can decide whether the applicant needs to get approval beforehand (prior approval). If the development is deemed to be “permitted development”, it does not require planning permission.
This guidance document from the Scottish Government provides, at para 19, special provisions for “Electronic Communications Code Operators” (i.e. mobile phone companies) such that:
Where an electronic communications code operator, or someone acting on their behalf, proposes:
erecting a new ground based mast up to 30m in height (excluding the extent to which any antenna protrudes beyond the height of that mast structure)
they have permitted development rights, but must notify the planning authority to see if [they require] prior approval of the siting, appearance etc of the development.
Therefore this application is seeking a binary decision from the Council on legal grounds about whether or not this proposal requires “prior approval”. If the Council does not respond within 28 days stating that prior approval is required, then the work can proceed without planning permission or any other planning approvals.
The same guidance document, towards the end of para 19, notes:
What needs an application for planning permission?
New ground based masts erected in various designated areas (world heritage sites, conservation areas, ……………)
The proposed site is in the Merchiston and Greenhill Conservation Area, so it would appear non-contentious that planning permission will be required.
The application is open for comments from the public until 7 April 2023. You can lodge a comment using this link to the application on the Council’s portal. To be effective, a comment should make clear why prior approval should be required in this case (i.e. because the site is in a conservation area). Any detailed comments on the proposed design and siting would more appropriately be reserved for the planning application itself.