Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Dish of the Day

"I know it's rather dark downstairs," said Father Brown, "but those hollow arches on the floor above could easily be turned into a first-rate photographic studio. A few workmen could fit it out with a glass roof in no time.'

'Really,' protested Martin Wood, 'I do think you should be the last man in the world to tinker about with those beautiful Gothic arches, which are about the best work your own religion has ever done in the world. I should have thought you'd have had some feeling for that sort of art; but I can't see why you should be so uncommonly keen on photography.'

'I'm uncommonly keen on daylight,' answered Father Brown, 'especially in this dingy business; and photography has the virtue of depending on daylight. And if you don't know that I would grind all the Gothic arches in the world to powder to save the sanity of a single human soul, you don't know so much about my religion as you think you do.'

Father Brown in "The Doom of the Darnaways", by G.K. Chesterton

A mark of changing times in the Minutes of the States from 1989 on Satellite aerial dishes, when such things were a novelty, and with the usual lack of foresight, the IDC (Planning Department of the day) decided that all dishes would need an application to be mad (see below).

Of course, they probably could not have seen the vast and rapid growth in satellite broadcasting, but it would be nice, if just for once, the States were proactive rather than reactive. We see here a typical bureaucracy, not prepared to cede any control of its oversight of planning.

The position now is that providing the dish is either not over 60 cm in diameter, or on a listed building (in which case it can be erected, but the placement must be determined by the committee), no applications are needed whatsoever.

Personally, I think that as there are no problems with TV aerials, which can go up even on listed buildings, the present planning department is still showing a propensity to nit-pick especially as satellite dishes do not normally rise high above the roofline, like TV aerials tend to do.

I also think there is a philosophical problem which has not been properly considered when looking at "listed buildings". These buildings have invariably been developed over time, and their construction often shows the hallmarks of different owners making their own changes, internal and external, and their own modernizations, because after all these buildings were built to be lived in. How can we then say that we are going to "fix" this accumulation of changes, and that it is somehow "authentic" to be kept static at one point in time?

Most heritage organisations realise that changes can be made, for instance, "Listing is not meant to fossilize a building. Its long-term interests are often best served by putting it to good use. If this cannot be the one it was designed for, a new use may have to be found. Listing ensures that the architectural and historic interest of the building is carefully considered before any alterations, either outside or inside, are agreed."

But look at the fuss over changes. A change in the colour from a drab and unpleasant grey to a soft lemon arouses the ire of planning. And as for changing draughty rattling windows for something more modern, but still with the same design, but better materials - forget it! Despite the rhetoric that changes can happen, the building has effectively been fossilized. Sometimes I think people forget that some buildings were meant to be lived in, and people matter more - hence the G.K. Chesterton quotation which begins this piece. I finish with this one:

Architecture is the most practical and the most dangerous of the arts. All the other arts we have to live with. They are things we have to live with and some have even said, with regard to some kinds of music and painting, that they are things they could live without. But architecture is not a thing only that we have to live with - it is a thing we have to live in.

THE STATES assembled on Tuesday,  17th January, 1989 at 10.15 a.m.under the Presidency of the Bailiff, Sir Peter Crill.

Satellite aerial dishes. Question and answer.
Deputy Maurice Clement Buesnel of St. Helier asked the Connétable of St. John, President of the Island Development Committee, the following question -
``With the introduction of satellite television within the next three weeks, will the President inform the House whether his Committee proposes to exempt satellite aerial discs from formal planning controls?''
The President of the Island Development Committee replied as follows -
``The ability to obtain television pictures by satellite is not new to Jersey and Members of this House will be aware that a few private households, some hotels and other commercial premises have satellite dishes. Under the Island Planning Law, these dishes constitute `development' and applications submitted to the Department are judged on the merits in terms of the visual impact they will have on the surrounding area.
What is new is the system known as `Astra' which will offer 16 T.V. channels and only requires a receiver 24'' in diameter. It may be felt that such a small dish should not be the subject of planning control and individuals should be allowed to erect them at will. However, I would ask Members to think about the impact that such an approach would have if these dishes were attached not only to the Island's many traditional buildings but also to ordinary houses in the town and countryside without some influence and guidance from the Department and, if necessary, the Committee.
At this time, it is not my Committee's intention to bring before the House a request to amend the Island Planning (Exempted Development) (Jersey)  Regulations in order to make satellite dishes both large and small, permitted development.
My Committee recognises that in many instances the small dishes will not be seen and will therefore have little or no visual impact. The matter is the subject of a report to be considered by my Committee on 26th January, 1989. Thereafter it is intended to adopt a policy for satellite dishes in general and a procedure for a simplified form of application for the smaller dishes. The aim will be to quickly grant consent for those dishes which will clearly have no impact on the area and to judge on their merits those which it is felt will have an impact.
The situation will be kept under review in order to ascertain if, in due course, an amendment to the Regulations is required. I feel at this stage a degree of caution should be exercised particularly as a second satellite service is to be brought into operation later in 1989, reception of which will require its own specialised 24'' diameter antenna. 


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