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Wealthy Kensington & Chelsea residents reject BT fibre cabinets

Quite ghastly, insist NIM-historic-streetscapers

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BT has been forced to withdraw its plans to plonk 108 fibre optic cabling cabinets on the streets of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

The council rejected 96 of the proposals put forward by BT, City AM reports.

The national telco had planned to install fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) technology so it could offer about 34,000 homes and businesses in the borough access to a faster broadband network.

BT gave The Register this statement:

We can confirm we have ceased deployment of fibre broadband in Kensington and Chelsea. This is unfortunate but we were left with no option after having the vast majority of our applications rejected by the council.

Other councils, including those of neighbouring boroughs, have shown a greater eagerness to enjoy the benefits of fibre broadband. We will therefore refocus our engineers' efforts in other areas where planning authorities have taken a positive approach and are keen to ensure their residents and businesses can benefit from this technology.

Kensington and Chelsea objected to its streets becoming cluttered by such boxes.

A spokesman for the borough told City AM: "BT has not worked in a spirit of cooperation and needs to consider our historic streetscape. Perhaps one of its competitors will step into the role."

However, the company claimed that it had "cross-referenced" the proposed cabinet installation with the borough's planning principles in an attempt to win approval from the council. The BT spokesman added that the telco had fitted more than 4,000 FTTCs across the capital.

"We have successfully worked with 31 London boroughs to provide fibre broadband speeds to their residents whilst minimising the visual impact of the necessary infrastructure. However, this does require co-operation on both sides," he said.

This isn't the first time residents and council planners have kicked up a stink about BT's plans to install cabinets on the capital's streets. In December 2009, BT was ordered by Haringey council officials to move 20 of its bulkier new streetside cabinets after their appearance offended local residents in leafy Muswell Hill, north London. ®

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