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Hampshire Seeks Legal Power to Push Superfast Broadband for New Homes

Monday, Jun 15th, 2015 (8:03 am) - Score 561

The Hampshire County Council in England has called on the UK Government to give district councils “clear legal powers” so they can insist, as part of the planning process, that superfast broadband speeds (24Mbps+) are made available to both new build homes and even retrofitted into existing developments.

Just over a month ago the related Hampshire Superfast Broadband project confirmed that they had “achieved [their] target of reaching over 54,000 premises by the end of the 2014-2015 financial year” (i.e. 90% of homes and businesses can access superfast broadband) and the next target will extend this to another 34,500 premises (95% coverage) by mid 2019 or earlier (here).

At the same time the local authority notes that over 25,000 new homes are planned to be built in the county within the next 5 years and the Government are simultaneously pushing councils to ensure that these also benefit by making superfast broadband a consideration of the planning process (here).

On top of that a forthcoming EU requirement will mean that, from 2017, all new buildings need to be “high-speed broadband ready“. Many councils are already responding to these changes (here and here), although Hampshire is calling for more powers to help it enforce the position.

Furthermore the council is also going further by looking to “retrofit new developments which are already or recently built” and that is likely to be more of a challenge, both legally (contract) and practically speaking.

Roy Perry, Leader of Hampshire County Council, said:

With over 450 housing developments of all sizes in the pipeline, the County Council believes that developers, as well as residents would benefit if superfast broadband was widely available at new sites.

Developers are taking more and more steps in this direction, and we would like to see this happen at a faster pace. Therefore, we will encourage infrastructure providers to work with developers to ensure these services are there to meet public demand.”

The County Council said they would also be providing more information to buyers on which of the major new housing sites are looking at providing superfast broadband, by publishing an online list, as well as recommending that Internet speeds are checked as a required part of house purchases.

On the flip side the Home Builders Federation, whose members in England and Wales deliver around 80% of the new homes each year, has previously warned that such a policy could “seriously damage” future construction (here) and at a time when the Government wants to build many thousands of extra homes.

It’s also important to set a reasonable limit and expectation based on development size, since it wouldn’t be right to hold big developments of multiple homes to the same rules as a single house builder who might be working in the middle of nowhere. The big development will have enough investment to consider new infrastructure, while small projects might realistically only be able to use what is already available in the local area (unless they cheat, like the Government, with Satellite).

By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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