Historical-style lamps nearby pole erected in 2010 on Great Lane.

In the early 1990s, B&DBC paid to have all the utility wires installed underground within the Whitchurch Conservation Zone. Constant vigilance is required, as utility companies often forget that they need to obtain planning permission for new poles within the zone.

Planning application approvals, like that for BDB/71477 – the redevelopment of the old library site – have a condition in them relevant to poles, it states: “27. All permanent services shall be installed below finished ground levels. REASON: To avoid the installation and proliferation of above-ground services in the interests of the visual amenities of the Conservation Area, in accordance with Policy E3 of the B&DBC Local Plan 1996-2011.”

New poles outside the Conservation Zone are more difficult to control – which sometimes lead to ridiculous “double-poling”, and the cluttering of the views and neighbourhoods with redundant poles and considerable wiring.

If you spot a new pole, then contact B&DBC and this website team at contact@whitchurch.org.uk who can publicise it here.

Four Farthings – Installed 14 April 2011

Two poles appear next to Four Farthings, off of McFauld Way in April 2011.

BT installed two poles near to the two new houses under construction beside Four Farthings, off of McFauld Way. No planning application has been seen as of 19 April. B&DBC made aware on 19 April, and responded to say they are setting up an enforcement case to investigate. They are also writing to the utility company to remind them of their responsibilities to get prior consent.

The notice on the first pole is uses reference code “BT NWR/1BAA6VJ TMRXMOD BVCS57”, the other is marked “BT NWR/1BAA6V3 BVC557 THJXS54” (and wrongly dated 14 April 2010).

UPDATE 8 August 2011: No update from B&DBC and the poles remain. Email sent to B&DBC to find out what the status of enforcement is.

Great Lane – Installed 29 July 2010 – REFUSED

Pole on Great Lane, July 2010

In the summer of 2010, a new telegraph pole was installed by BT along Great Lane, behind The Blue Ginger restaurant. After a complaint to B&DBC, the utility company submitted application BDB/74001 for “Installation of replacement 8 metre high telegraph pole (Retrospective)”.

Councillor Keith Watts stated, “I have taken pictures (of the pole) and sent them to Planning Enforcement. About 18 years ago the Borough Council paid BT and SE to put all cables in the Conservation Area underground.”

The pole is next to the Bell Street car park, along Great Lane – and contrasts with the historic-style lights in the car park.

UPDATE 8 August 2011: The pole remains, and no enforcement action appears to have been taken by B&DBC. Email sent to B&DBC to find out why.

UPDATE 13 May 2011: B&DBC have just confirmed that the application was REFUSED. Interestingly, the reason given was the complete opposite of what the Conservation Officer stated in his report. B&DBC said, “The above mentioned application was refused by the development control committee on Wednesday night, as it was determined that the pole did not preserve the character of the area and that the design was not appropriate. Officers are currently determining an enforcement period for the removal of the pole.”

UPDATE 12 May 2011: A site visit by B&DBC took place, and in their ‘update’ report this was stated: “Cllr Watts was present at the viewing and addressed members with his concerns. The Cllr noted that the telegraph pole was within the ancient centre of Whitchurch and explained that it contravened previous projects/initiatives to ensure that cabling was installed underground to avoid overhead cabling interfering with the special character of the area.”

The officer, though, recommended the approval of the pole, against the objection of local residents and the town council. The B&DBC Conservation Officer did not object, though, stating: “The pole is traditional timber column and is considered to preserve the character of the Conservation Area.”

Bell Mews – Installed 13 October 2005 – Removed!

Pole on Bell Mews in 2005, now removed.

A pole was installed in the Bell Mews development, between Bellevue and Bell Yard, near the car park, during the construction of the flats. The installation was required, BT said, because of the temporary use of the bin store as a construction office. After a successful campaign, BT removed the pole!