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Controversial North Swindon broadband masts to go before planners again

THE company behind Superfast Swindon will seek permission this week to erect four masts in North Swindon, just months after similar plans were thrown out.

Swindon Borough Council1 s planning committee will decide whether to approve the installation of the masts when they meet on Tuesday. Since the original masts were first rejected in February, both BT and Virgin have announced plans to roll out superfast broadband in North Swindon through a fibre network. In light of this development, opponents of the plan are likely to question whether a persuasive business case for these masts now exists.

The four masts three 15 metre monopoles and an eight metre lattice tower are required to allow the 4G signal to get from the main central transmitter out to the residential areas of North Swindon. For the success of Superfast Swindon, opening up the service to an additional 7,000 homes in the northern sector is crucial because without it they will not achieve the full 20,000 home coverage agreed when the deal was signed. The application has been called before the committee by Councillor Vera Tomlinson2 (Con St Andrews) because of the public interest indeed opposition that similar proposals have previously generated.

In February, the committee rejected an application for five of the 15 metre high monopoles and their associated equipment cabinets meaning UK Broadband Networks (UKBN), the company behind Superfast Swindon, had to think again on their placement. The new proposed locations for the monopoles are the junction of Thamesdown Drive and Torun Way in Haydon Wick3, the junction of Thamesdown Drive and the footpath to Gaynor Close and on Haydon End Lane. The lattice tower is to be placed on Tadpole Lane in Blunsdon4 if it gets the go-ahead.

MP for North Swindon and critic of the Superfast Swindon deal, Justin Tomlinson5, said: The argument of UKBN and Swindon Borough Council is that this is vital to providing residents access to superfast broadband.

We know this is absolute nonsense as both BT and Virgin have set out their very clear and rapid roll out timetable for the northern sector without a single penny of taxpayer s funding as this was a purely commercial decision.

Therefore, there is absolutely no need for this unwanted, dated and unpopular technology – I hope the planning team, once again, kick it out. The Superfast Swindon project was launched after UKBN were the only company to enter into a tendering process to provide a broadband solution to what were previously thought of as non-commercially viable areas for fibre expansion.

1.78 million was put into the project by Swindon Borough Council along with 1.5 million made available from central government. It was always a possibility that names such as BT and Virgin may enter the market with a fibre expansion at some point, however their arrival just weeks after the Superfast Swindon launch has cast doubt on the likelihood of its success.

A refusal from the planning committee on Tuesday would be a further blow in what has already been a difficult few weeks.

References

  1. ^ Swindon Borough Council (www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk)
  2. ^ Vera Tomlinson (www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk)
  3. ^ Haydon Wick (www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk)
  4. ^ Blunsdon (www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk)
  5. ^ Justin Tomlinson (www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk)

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