Holmes Chapel Parish Council notes the recent installation of telecommunication poles by the company Airband on the Ravenscroft Estate. We share and endorse the concerns and extreme disappointment of residents to this and other installations around the village. We are deeply concerned about the lack of clear communication and mixed messages received from both Airband and Cheshire East Council of the scope of these installations which directly contradicts the agreement given to the Parish Council in January 2023.
In January of this year, representatives from the Parish Council met with Airband to share our concerns and to seek clarity on the installation process. At that meeting reassurances were sought, and the Parish Council left that meeting with the belief that installation of poles had virtually been completed and that Airband would inform the Parish Council should further installation be required.
The Parish Council was extremely disappointed, therefore, to hear from residents that additional poles had been installed. We had not been informed of these installations from Airband.
The Clerk wrote to a representative of Airband to query this recent installation. The following is taken from that response:
“..the pole was on public land and we have the authority to put our poles on public land without the need to consult anyone other than Cheshire council and their planning department. This is in conjunction with the permitted development act which you will have had off me in January. If you would like another copy then let me know and I would be happy to send one over to you.
With regards to your queries below starting from your first initial email. When we spoke in January it was mentioned by Ray that we would inform you where possible over any new poles going in at that time, this particular pole is a different case due to the quick change of infrastructure. We had originally planned to use what are called Toby Boxes which go underground, when speaking with our build manager he has just advised me this would cause around 10 days of disruption to the residents of Ravenscroft for 8 hours a day whilst our engineers worked. This would also cause severe scaring to the road which would look unsightly.
Moving onto your latest email with regards to statutory notices, the statutory notices have been issued and is on the pole. There is a zoomed in photo on your last image of this. If you meant the stake notices, there is no legal obligation for us to issue these, again like mentioned above due to the quick turn around time it was not feasible for us to put these up.”
The Parish Council has shared our concerns with Cheshire East Council and Airband. We are extremely disappointed that permitted development legislation means that telecommunication providers are not legally obliged to consult on pole installations and therefore are not seeking the views of ourselves and residents before installing structures that make such an extreme impact on the visual amenity of the village. Airband should install infrastructure underground on the Ravenscroft area of the estate respecting the open design of that estate. The only reasons given to us that this was not the chosen route is a reliance on the ‘permitted development’ aspects, cost and as stated above the temporary disruption from residents.
We call upon both Airband and Cheshire East to hold an urgent public meeting with residents and ourselves to clarify the confusing and mixed messages being received and to agree that underground services will be provided rather than posts that destroy the visual amenity for decades to come.
Airband is part of Project Gigabit that is the government’s flagship £5 billion programme to enable hard-to-reach communities to access lightning-fast gigabit-capable broadband.
It targets homes and businesses that are not included in broadband suppliers’ plans, reaching parts of the UK that might otherwise miss out on getting the digital connectivity they need.
(The above taken directly from gov uk https://www.gov.uk/guidance/project-gigabit-uk-gigabit-programme )
Holmes Chapel has been included in OpenReach’s, main UK network, commercial roadmap since May 2021*, that is now in the progress of being upgraded today **
Therefore, further clarity is needed from Cheshire East and Airband, why further infrastructure is required as Holmes Chapel is not a ‘hard to reach community’ that may ‘’miss out on getting the digital connectivity they need”.