Virgin Media broadband and TV cabinets are already part of the street scenery in our area. Many of the familar green boxes are obtrusive and badly maintained and are often to be seen with doors hanging open or with broken hinges.
Prepare for another invasion of similar boxes as superfast broadband comes to the area – BT, for example, aim to have their new BT Infinity service operating in this area by September – and with it come boxes, many 1.6m high on every street with few controls on where they are located.
We all want fast broadband. But what can be done to make sure that a profusion of cabinets don’t spoil our environment? Civic Voice are currently campaigning on the issue:
Two thirds of homes will be passed by superfast broadband by 2015 as part of a major investment programme in broadband infrastructure. This requires thousands of green boxes (or “street cabinets”) to be installed in streets across the country. Civic Voice is finding too many of these broadband boxes are being poorly located, inflexibly designed and made unnecessarily intrusive.
The new broadband boxes stand 1.6 metres high and do not require planning consent. Even in conservation areas, National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty local planning authorities need only be notified of proposals. A legal presumption that such infrastructure should be undergrounded in conservation areas is seemingly ignored on the grounds of questionable “technical difficulties” and “huge cost”.
Civic Voice believes the nation needs broadband but it does not have to be at the expense of the street environment. To ensure this Civic Voice is calling for:
Earlier involvement of local communities in the location and design of broadband boxes across neighbourhoods and not just individual sites
Urban design criteria to be made central to the Government’s broadband delivery plans
Extra planning safeguards to ensure street cabinets are well located and designed
Adherence to the legal presumption for undergrounding street cabinets in conservation areas
Greater flexibility over the design and colour of street cabinets
Guarantees the broadband boxes will be removed when technological change makes them redundant
Broadband Delivery UK and BT Openreach and other broadband infrastructure providers to recognise in their missions that they have responsibilities to the millions of people whose local environment is affected as well as to broadband customers.
If you are concerned by the impact of broadband boxes being installed in your area then let Civic Voice know. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org