Concerns have been raised after permission has been granted for a string of ‘large and obtrusive’ boxes in Alnwick to support the roll-out of superfast broadband.
Last month, we reported Alnwick Civic Society’s fears over the siting of an internet unit which is to be placed along Bondgate Without, near to The Fleece Inn.
The cabinet will replace the one that is currently there, but will be larger in size, prompting the group to claim it will be intrusive, create a road-safety hazard and spoil the streetscape.
Now it has emerged that an additional box will also be placed nearby, after being approved by Northumberland County Council officers under delegated powers.
But it is not the only one throughout the town. A string of extra boxes have been approved by officers in the same manner.
The locations are outside Column Cottage opposite the town’s war memorial, at the bottom of Pottergate opposite the Harry Hotspur statue, outside the old Post Office on Clayport Street and on South Road at the Oaks roundabout.
The boxes will be placed close to existing cabinets.
Alnwick town and county councillor Gordon Castle is alarmed.
Although he supports superfast broadband, he said: “This causes me a great deal of concern. I’m not satisfied that these boxes have been given the proper level of consideration.
“These are going to be large and obtrusive structures in sensitive areas of the town.
“I feel these have gone through on the nod, without the involvement of the planning committee, elected members, the civic society and the town council, and I don’t believe a proper assessment has been carried out and alternative sites should have been considered.”
Peter Ennor, chairman of the civic society, said he was ‘annoyed’ about the situation.
A county council spokeswoman said: “Under planning regulations consent is only required for these when they are located in conservation areas and even in those situations it is not a full planning permission that is required, but what is termed a prior notification procedure. The council is only able to exercise control over the appearance and siting of such equipment. With applications of this nature it is not standard practice for the council to publicise the applications although they are included within the weekly application lists.
“After the eight-week response timeframe, the developments are deemed approved rather than refused as with full planning applications.”