Planning minister Richard Caborn has announced standardisation of householders' rights to install satellite dishes, as well as measures giving businesses greater access to telecommunications.
An order laid before Parliament will allow householders throughout England and Wales to install dishes up to 90cm in size without the need for a planning application.
This brings southern and eastern areas into line with the rest of England and Wales, whereas previously they were subject to more restrictive conditions.
For business premises and blocks of flats, the limit will increase to 1.3m, and operators of local-loop telephone systems will be able to install small antennae on residential and business properties to enable subscribers to connect to their network. This applies to buildings which are 15m or more in height. Dishes on other buildings are subject to the 90cm limit, unless installed on a chimney where a 45cm limit applies.
Safeguards over installations in sensitive areas such as national parks, conservation areas and areas of outstanding natural beauty will remain.
The new regulations come into effect on 26 March (next week). A revised DETR booklet, A Householder's Planning Guide for the Installation of Satellite Television Dishes will be available in the summer from DETR's Publication Despatch Centre, Blackhorse Road, London SE9 6TT, tel: 0181 691 9191, fax: 0181 694 0099.
TILT-UP ON THE UP
A research report for the Reinforced Concrete Council argues that tilt-up construction is competitive with the metal cladding options commonly used on warehouses in this country. Tilt-up construction, which involves large concrete panels being cast on the ground slab and simply lifted (tilted) into place to form walls, is widely used in the US, New Zealand and Australia. It accounts for 95 per cent of construction in some warehouse sectors, and is also often used for other buildings such as industrial facilities, offices, sports centres and houses. In contrast, in the UK it has only been used in a handful of instances.
Dr Jacqueline Glass of Oxford Brookes School of Architecture has carried out the research to overturn the perception that tilt-up should not be used because it is much more expensive than metal cladding.
She has developed a cost-model study for a range of B1 type buildings. Glass finds that on, for instance, a building of 2500 m2 at a cost per unit floor area of £300-350/ m2 , tilt-up is equivalent in cost to conventional metal cladding. Even using more durable insulated tilt-up sandwich panels only adds £8-14/ m2 to the cost. A loadbearing tilt-up panel costs £50-60/ m2 per unit wall area (including lifting and finishing), a cost which is typical of mid-range metal-intensive cladding systems. And tilt-up insulated sandwich panels, which are widely used in the US, would cost £60-70/ m2 in the UK, comparing favourably to a wide range of composite and non-composite metal cladding systems.