The poles were installed in Holcombe Drive, Llandrindod Wells, on January 10, which internet provider Openreach said will allow residents to enjoy “some of the fastest broadband speeds in Europe”.
But locals have branded the poles an eyesore. Some residents have lived in Holcombe Drive home for over half a century and are perplexed as to why the poles have been erected when the estate already has a well-established network of underground cabling.
Residents organised a gathering on Sunday, February 4, which was attended by Jake Berriman, the county councillor for Llandrindod’s north ward.
Colin Hughes, who organised the Sunday morning meeting, attended by more than 30 longstanding residents, said: “Residents feel these huge poles are completely out of keeping with this open plan estate of bungalows, designed in the 1970s.
“They represent a completely outdated technology and are not appropriate for 21st century use, especially when considering they are designed to carry superfast fibre.
“The ugly poles tower above our bungalows, where many of us have lived for 50 years, growing old together. We feel overlooked and mistreated.”
Wife Vickie, who has written to the local authority asking it to intervene, added: “We fully accept that we all benefit from improved broadband technology in so many ways but, while new poles might well be the best solution in rural settings, our estate already has a well-established network of underground cabling.
“We fully expected (Openreach) to replace outdated copper cables with fibre optics in due course, but reverting to big, wonky poles and exposed overhead cabling on our estate is a completely retrograde step, no doubt driven by cost over aesthetic considerations.”
On January 10 sub-contractors arrived with drilling machinery and the poles. Residents say they had no idea about the project and were not consulted.
“This is a ridiculous situation, but sadly not unique to Llandrindod Wells,” said Councillor Berriman, whose remit as Powys County Council cabinet member for a Connected Powys, includes broadband projects.
“It seems that the UK Government has received petitions calling for proper consultation before new poles are erected, but ministers have rejected these requests for a change in the law, once again choosing not to hear the legitimate concerns of ordinary people.
“As the works were within the highway verge, consent from Powys’ highways department was needed so I made initial contact to establish some basic facts, but quickly found that their interests related solely to highways safety and not amenity.
“I am now pursuing the matter with the planning department as operators benefit from extensive permitted development rights and a consultation process with the public which seems to entail putting up the telegraph poles first and pinning notices to them informing residents of their rights to object if their land is prejudiced by the apparatus.
“The problem here is, I do not believe that the solution to go overhead was the best and most appropriate solution.
“It not in the community’s interests; a viable underground alternative would have been less disruptive and more cost effective in the long term.”
Cllr Berriman is working with Holcombe Drive residents to draft a response to the Openreach consultation and to object to the new poles.
“The vast majority of Llandrindod residents are looking forward to being able to use some of the fastest broadband speeds in Europe thanks to the ultrafast infrastructure that we’re bringing to the area,” said an Openreach spokesperson.
“We’ve followed the correct planning process during every step of the build process and gained the relevant permissions from the council.
“We’re aware of the visual impact our equipment can have and the balance between cost effectiveness, aesthetics and safety can be difficult to achieve.
“Where possible, we use our existing infrastructure but there are times when we simply cannot avoid erecting poles.
“We’re using the smallest, thinnest poles possible for the job, and overhead fibre cables are much narrower than copper cables and less obtrusive.”