High Court Considers The Meaning Of The Word “Mast”

The High Court has considered the meaning of the word “mast” as used in Part 16 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (“GPDO”). 

The challenge arose in the context of the installation of a number of “pole mounts”, used to support antennae, which had been installed on a building in Lewisham by Cornerstone Telecommunications Infrastructure Limited.

The pole mounts had been installed without planning permission, relying upon the general grant of planning permission for telecommunications apparatus under the GPDO. 

In the GPDO, the term “mast” is defined as “a radio mast or tower”. 

Lang J considered the ordinary meaning of the word “mast”, the legislative structure of Part 16, and the purpose of the restriction in para. A.1(2)(c) and concluded that the term “radio mast” should be broadly interpreted as including any pole which supports antennae which transmit and receive radio waves and that factors such as height, scale and design could not be implied into the definition given in the GPDO.

Accordingly, as the pole mounts here did support the antennae to transmit and receive radio waves, they were masts and the decision of the Defendant was irrational. 

The judgment is important, as paragraph A.1 of Class A sets out a number of limitations relating to the installation of “masts”. If these limitations apply, the installation of telecommunications apparatus is not permitted development.