Council accidentally approves 5G mast in ‘shocking’ IT error

Those who objected to the planning application included the Hornsey Cricket Club, who will be forced to grant access to build the mast on their land, reports Miriam Balanescu

Alexandra Palace
Alexandra Palace

Haringey Council has mistakenly approved a contentious planning application to build a 5G phone mast at the Hornsey Cricket Club, Crouch End.

In a ‘shocking’ IT error, the council’s decision to refuse the application to build the mast in Tivoli Road was accidentally sent a day late, meaning the council no longer has power to enforce their decision.

Local authorities have 56 days to respond to permitted development applications. National legislation says that if no notification is given by day 56, the application is deemed to have been automatically approved.

The mistake was due to a manual error in the council’s configuration of its planning IT system.

The opposition Liberal Democrat party say that a second mast in Tottenham was affected by the same error.

Those who objected to the planning application included the Hornsey Cricket Club, who own the land where the mast is due to be built. Under the Electronic Communications Code, telecoms companies have the right to install masts on land despite the opposition of the landowner.

The land is a Crouch End conservation area.

Luke Cawley-Harrison, leader of the Lib Dem opposition, said: “This is a shocking error from Haringey Council, and underlines why the “last minute” culture, which affects planning enquiries, complaint responses, housing issues and more, is utterly unacceptable. Residents, and in particular Hornsey Cricket Club, are now left to deal with the consequences of the council’s negligence – this simply is not good enough.”

Update (19th February)

Haringey Council’s cabinet member for housing services, private renters and planning Sarah Williams, said: “I would like to apologise for this regrettable error, which occurred owing to an unforeseen glitch in our planning team’s IT system at the time. The fault has now been rectified and we have put in place stringent measures to reduce the risk of this happening again.

“We have a strong record of opposing inappropriate applications here at Haringey Council, including those through permitted development rights. Any planning refusal can be appealed.

“Our Planning team deals with over 2,000 applications each year and it is pretty uncommon for them to make errors such as this. Indeed, they were praised in a recent peer challenge/review for the high standards in which they operate.”

A Cornerstone spokesperson stated: “Cornerstone understands that our mobile infrastructure can impact communities and lead to concern about proposed developments. For this reason, we give great consideration to the location and design of our developments. We have gained planning permission for a proposed base station at Hornsey Cricket Club which will provide network coverage for residents and visitors to the area. We can confirm that permission was gained via deemed consent and that we anticipate building this base station in due course.”

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