Permitted street paraphernalia.

Photograph: a Monopole which appeared this spring in Grimwade Street – right opposite the new housing being built there.

Ipswich Society planning monitors are again being taxed with the contentious issue of telecommunications equipment which, in simple terms, can be erected in the street without planning permission. The telecommunications company need to inform the planning authority in advance and officers can object should the equipment be particularly intrusive, especially in Conservation Areas and outside listed buildings.

But if the telecommunications company have decided that this particular piece of equipment is essential then it has to go somewhere, and they have frequently chosen a spacious location (extra wide pavement) where they can park their vans.

This month’s string of prior notices is for 5G monopoles, each 60 feet high (20 metres, a house is typically 6 or 7 metres high). Within limits, the higher the mast, the greater the area it serves; so overall, fewer masts will be required.

These masts are, of course, a necessary intrusion into the landscape. If mobile phones are to work, particularly those accessing the internet and performing multiple functions – receiving television broadcasts and video calls from family and friends – then these masts are essential.

Just like electricity pylons galloping across the countryside, television aerials and satellite dishes on every house and cars parked nose-to-tail on both sides of every street of terraced houses, they are a necessary intrusion into the visual amenity, but one which society chooses to tolerate. Be it wheelie-bins blocking the pavement or giant television screens advertising some familiar product and distracting drivers at major highway junctions we learn to live with them. On this basis monopoles are probably one of the lesser eyesores in the street, but don't tell the planners I said that!

Another up and coming issue with planning is the proposed new primary school in Carr Street, on the face of it an excellent idea and one which we support. The issue we have is the developer’s proposal to demolish the locally listed Co-operative Society's former department store to create the necessary space.

We were consulted at the pre-planning stage and our advice, then as now, is that there is more than enough space in the service yard, the site of the former garden centre, the demolished Barnes haberdashery in Upper Orwell Street and, if that's still insufficient, then a part of Cox Lane car park.

I was writing a piece yesterday about how we destroyed, building by building, significant pieces of the history of this town in the 1960s, to build Greyfriars, Carr Precinct and St Mathews Street dual carriageway. Ancient buildings were lost in the name of progress and yet, sixty years later, we still have acres of undeveloped land.

We see no justification in making the same mistake again.

John Norman

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