New builds in Shropshire will not be ready for superfast broadband

New houses in the county will not be superfast broadband ready, Shropshire Council has said, despite more than 10,000 new builds being planned for the area by 2036.

New builds in Shropshire will not be ready for superfast broadband

The authority said it is up to developers to ensure new home buyers have access to fast internet, but that it is considering brining in a check list for new developments "to highlight the qualitative aspects of schemes", which would include broadband.

Chris Taylor, Connecting Shropshire programme manager, said that they focus on harder to reach premises, not new housing estates.

He said: “From a Connecting Shropshire perspective, legally we are only able to invest public funding to provide access to superfast broadband where there is no existing or planned commercial coverage, and we have the appropriate state aid approval.

"Our last approval was agreed with the Department for Digital Culture Media and Sport in 2016, prior to our last procurement exercise which resulted in a contract award to Airband.

“Connecting Shropshire’s focus is, and will always be, on addressing the superfast broadband gaps where there is clear ‘market failure’ that justifies our intervention. These by their very nature, are predominantly more costly and harder to reach premises, and not those on new housing estates.

“Where new housing estates are being built, there is obvious mutual benefit to the developers and broadband infrastructure providers. In these cases it is not appropriate for the state to intervene at the expense of addressing the ‘harder to reach’ areas.

“If there are instances where gaps have been created by developers not working with broadband infrastructure providers, we would recommend that the issue is raised with the developer. In most cases, where pressure is applied, we are aware that the developers have retrospectively addressed the issue and arranged for the appropriate work to be carried out.

“Currently, there is no UK law that forces developers to provide superfast broadband in the homes that they build. Having said that, I believe that it is good practice to do so, especially because broadband infrastructure providers will, in some cases, work with developers to install free superfast broadband connections on new housing developments."

Mr Taylor added that an accreditation scheme is in progress.

“As the local planning authority, Shropshire Council is considering bringing in its own accreditation scheme for new developments," he said.

"The idea being that a checklist is used at the pre-application stage by the planning officers and applicants/agents/designers to highlight the qualitative aspects of schemes that sometimes get missed. This work is in progress, but would include aspects relating to broadband connectivity on new developments.”

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