By Paul Henson

The decision of the Upper Tribunal in Cornerstone Telecommunications Infrastructure Limited v the University of London (2018) permitted the operator to access, inspect and survey the landowner’s premises as a substantive right under paragraph 3(a) or 3(d) of the Electronic Communications Code (the “Code”). This has thwarted landowners’ tentative attempts to prevent unwanted telecoms apparatus on their properties by allowing them to deny access for initial inspection and survey works.

The facts are straightforward. CTIL wanted access to the University of London’s student accommodation premises known as Lillian Penson Hall which is located opposite Paddington railway station in order to consider whether it was suitable for a new mast. Their previous mast equipment in that area, located on the roof of a local hotel, had to be removed due to impending demolition and CTIL wanted to consider alternative sites. The University of London were not amenable to this approach (no doubt fearing the request for the installation of a mast would follow) and refused CTIL’s requests on the basis that the Code does not expressly refer to operators having a right to survey a site to consider its suitability.