Installing telecommunications equipment like telephone masts and transmitters on church towers can be a source of valuable income. They do, however, often have an impact on the fabric, appearance and future maintenance of the building.
When you are considering proposals for telecommunications equipment, you need to check whether you require consent. You may need to get permission from your local authority or your denominational body.
If work is to be carried out by and on behalf of the telecommunications company it may be considered to fall outside the coverage of the ecclesiastical exemption and therefore require listed building consent.
Our advice note about installing telecommunications equipment also provides information on our role, what information we need before we can offer informed advice and the key issues we would be concerned about.
Issues to consider
Some of the issues which you may need to consider when proposing the installation of telecommunications equipment are set out below. When considering the installation of masts or transmitters, it may help to develop statements of need and significance.
Where appropriate, telecommunications companies are encouraged to share equipment, thereby preventing the proliferation of it in and around a place of worship.
If your proposal involves the replacement of wooden or slate louvres with new louvres in a material which facilitates transmission from towers, you will need to fully justify this. It is possible to carry out tests to identify signal strength. This may help to determine whether existing louvres can be retained.
You will also need to justify any loss of fabric through the installation of supporting structures, such as steel beams.
Any proposal will need to consider the options for continued safe access to the tower for the purposes of inspection and maintenance. We recommend that you develop a plan to safely store any items moved due to works, and to restore your building to its original appearance when the installation is no longer needed.