Having been contacted by a Grade II Listed Building to provide an alternative communal solution to the present analogue-only terrestrial channels, Community Vision worked closely with the residents of this self-managed block to address the Planning issues.
We met with the area representative for Historic Buildings to understand their objectives. Dish visibility proved to be less of a concern than the impact of cabling on the external elevations. Indeed the legacy implications which would flow from future changes in communal television technology was given the greatest prominence – what damage would be caused to the fabric when the network needed to be removed in the future?
The living rooms for the nineteen flats in this Listed Building faced from all four elevations. There were no vertical risers inside the building to conceal cables. Trunking around stairwells or within corridors would not be in keeping. The network therefore had to be run externally to bring the satellite signals to the living room of every apartment.
To overcome the visual reservations about cabling, Community Vision utilised fibre optic technology. Horizontal runs were largely concealed within the basement storage areas and vertical runs were designed to take advantage of the contours of the building. We brought just one fibre feed with a diameter of only 2mm into every living room where we converted it back to coaxial cabling to provide four signals to enable residents to have one independent Sky+ HD decoder in each of two rooms.
This solution addresses all the Planning issues with the consequence that the Authority decided that Planning Consent was not required. The residents now have greater viewing choice within their flats. Even the size of the communal dish can be smaller with fibre which means it can no longer be seen from the grounds.
With this information the logistical issues at this twenty four storey block became even more complex. The Falcon is a protected species and it returns to this rooftop every ear to raise its young. Our Health & Safety Officer had to develop Risk Assessments and Method Statements to agree how we could access the communal aerial array and satellite dish at roof level without disturbing the Falcon and its family.
In practice, we installed the signal reception equipment at roof level one month before the Falcon’s annual visit. Although our design approach minimised the external facilities we still require rooftop access to maintain the communal dish and aerial. There is a webcam to observe the Falcon, so we can co-ordinate our visits with the guest!
This floor-to-floor cabling through the block is run within the riser by the lift which is at the end of each of the twenty-four floors. The cables to each flat are contained behind coving which we fitted on both sides of every corridor. We designed and built a special wooden box panel to conceal the cables as they crossed a glass background on each floor.
We met the residents’ criteria that no cabling to any of their one hundred and sixteen flats be visible within the common parts. And we have not disturbed the Falcon.