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Virgin Media Agrees to Move Light Obstructing Barrhead Street Cabinet

Thursday, September 14th, 2017 (7:57 am) by Mark Jackson (Score 1,162)
lowndes court virgin media cabinet location

Remember those pensioners in Barrhead (East Renfrewshire, Scotland) who complained that Virgin Media’s new 5ft tall street cabinet “completely blocks out any light from coming into the house” (here)? After a nine month battle, plus lots of bad media publicity, the operator has agreed to move it.

Generally broadband infrastructure builders like Virgin Media do not require planning permission for deploying new street cabinets as they come under permitted development (tougher rules may exist in protected areas), although local authorities do expect such operators’ to situate their constructions in suitable locations that have a minimal impact on residents.

In the case of Barrhead this “minimal impact” approach became somewhat strained as the large cabinet ended up filling nearly all of the view from the couples living room, which might have done more negative damage to their property value than the positive addition of ultrafast broadband. Many people would happily accept such a cabinet if it meant better broadband but experiences do vary.

Rosemary Ferguson (82) said (Barrhead News):

“This has been going on since January and they (Virgin Media) just didn’t want to know. Then the chief executive for the whole of the UK came out this morning and told us the boxes would be moved.

Virgin Media has finally seen sense but they should need planning permission for these types of boxes. There’s got to be legislation brought in to make sure the likes of Virgin Media, with the size of these boxes, go through the planning process.”

No date has been given for when the work will take place, although we wouldn’t be too surprised if residents complained about the disruption that it will inevitably cause. Hopefully this time around Virgin Media will be able to find a better spot for the cabinet, although given the density of housing then it’s possible that the cabinet might just end up irritating somebody else.

However we disagree with the call for planning permission as that would make deploying new ultrafast broadband networks significantly slower and more expensive, which could create a huge financial disincentive for operators’ that might wish to deploy new infrastructure. The Government has already made a lot of changes to facilitate such deployments and we certainly don’t want to see that go in reverse.

In reality disputes like the one raised above are rare and that’s pretty good going, especially considering the many tens of thousands of new street cabinets that have been installed by various different network operators across the United Kingdom over the past few years.

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9 Responses
  1. Asrab

    I dont think any planning should be needed for work such as these, and Virgin Media should be allowed to carry on as they are – but common Virgin have some sense, if you are obstructing someones view at least get some sort of agreement from the people affected,

  2. ChrisP

    It’s up to all operators like Virgin not to irritate the public in their deployments else there will be greater call for regulations like planning permissions. I can imagine Corbyn reading out a letter in parliament from Rose in Scotland complaining about the roll out at all costs with scant regard to the local environment and JC calling on the house to impose steeper regulation. That’ll hurt all infrastructure operators.

    The risk of legislation is what prompted VM to do the right thing after 9 months.

    I do wonder if anyone else has been impacted by badly sited isp street furniture and what the ISP’s will do about it.

    • I’ve covered lots of complaints about street furniture over the years, although most of those gripes tend to be largely without much foundation and fall more into the NIMBYs territory. However problems with poor or disruptive street works, rather than furniture, tend to attract the lion’s share of angry residents (applies to most utilities, not only broadband).

    • Optimist

      Isn’t the problem the height of these new boxes? My guess is that people would not object to a low structure – say less than 3 feet – but they don’t see why their view should be obscured. Can’t the electronics be fitted into lower (if longer) cabinets?

    • Joe

      @Opti: they could but that means making a cabinet of that size and thats a cost issue.

    • Phil

      Virgin Media and common sense?
      Just had VM install cable where I live – next door wanted to take service but need permission for cable to cross my land. I agree as long as cable place right next to edge of grass/path.

      VM installed cable down the middle of on lawn! Muppets.

    • MikeW

      @optimist
      A large portion of the problem here is that the lounge is already below street level, maybe 3ft, so the boxes are nicely at & above eye height.

      Now they’re being moved, they’ll get the excitement of looking up at the executive shoeboxes opposite instead.

  3. Bob2002

    Anyone who saw the photo from inside their living room, looking out of the window, would have sympathy with them. The Virgin cabinet is huge and would have upset pretty much anyone who values daylight.

    • Ultraspeedy

      Anyone that looked at ALL the pictures and paid attention would note it did not even cast a shadow on their homes window let alone block out all the light.

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