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Heads of Planning,
Local Planning Authorities


Dear Colleague

I am writing to inform you of the publication of the latest version of the Code of Best Practice on Mobile Phone Network Development. This latest version was published on 10 March.

The purpose of the Code is to encourage better communication and consultation between telecommunications operators, local planning authorities and local communities, and to help 
standardise planning procedures and operator practices to improve consistency of decision making and implementation. The Code also helps explain technical features of mobile systems, and provides good practice guidance on the siting and design of new
telecommunications development.

The previous Code was issued in 2003. Since that time significant changes in the telecommunications industry have taken place. The number of mobile devices has continued to grow, both in terms of mobile phones and other internet connected devices. The advent of 4G has seen a dramatic increase in the amount of digital data used by mobile devices, and the growing demand for services has led to the deployment of more
telecommunications infrastructure across Wales. The introduction of 5G technology places further demands on infrastructure and requires improvements to network capability.

The objective to revise the Code was set out in the Welsh Government’s Mobile Action Plan in October 2017. The new Code has been prepared collaboratively. A working group comprising representatives from the mobile phone industry, local planning authorities and officials from the Welsh Government worked together to revise the Code. Revisions to the Code are part of a wider set of changes to the planning system aimed at supporting deployment of mobile infrastructure across Wales.

Planning policy about telecommunications development is set out in Planning Policy Wales, and this is currently supplemented by Technical Advice Note (TAN) 19 Telecommunications (2002). The introduction of the latest Code, means that the Welsh Government will now be reviewing TAN 19, which is considered to be largely out of date. It is our expectation that we will cancel TAN 19, and any parts of it which are considered to remain relevant will be integrated into Planning Policy Wales. I will write to you again on this matter, once the work has concluded. Amendments to Part 24 of the Town and Country (General Permitted Development) (Wales) Order 1995, Development by Electronic Communications Code Operators (Wales), have also contributed to the establishment of a positive planning environment for telecommunications. Recent amendments came in to force in April 2019 and December 2020.

The latest version of the Code is more concise than the previous version. It outlines the importance of current and future mobile technology in modern society, and how it relates to Welsh Government priorities expressed in the Programme for Government. The Code also addresses the siting and design of mobile infrastructure, particularly considerations pertinent to the introduction of newer technologies (without prejudice to Planning Policy Wales or General Permitted Development Order requirements), and the technical and operational requirements of mobile phone networks in different circumstances. The Code discusses in some detail the planning consultation and application process associated with telecommunications development and, in Annex C, provides a template for a
supplementary information form. 

Yours sincerely,

Neil Hemington 
Prif Gynllunydd | Chief Planner 
Cyfarwyddiaeth Cynllunio | Planning Directorate