F51: An illuminating application
Folkestone is still an art school, according to Creative Folkestone. With so many forms of art prominent in the town, that may very well be the case. However, it would seem that writing a planning application is an art form for which the they should run a masterclass, as the closely associated Roger De Haan Charitable Trust, owners of F51 Folkestone, could do with some pointers.
Application 22/0043/FH to display projected advertisements on the F51 skate park is currently awaiting approval after amendments were submitted at the end of February, possibly in response to comments from KCC Highways that:
illumination visible by traffic should not be of a flashing type;
the maximum luminance value should be 300cd/m²; and
transitions between slides should be smooth and last at least 10 seconds.
The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) recommends cinema screens have a peak luminance value of 48cd/m², though cinemas need less luminance as they are much darker than the average street at night. SMPTE notes that average luminance transitions from 1 cd/m² to 35 cd/m² are considered “slightly annoying” but from 1 cd/m² to 70 cd/m² are “annoying”.
The main changes from the Original Application Form (07/01/22), and the Amended Application Form (18/02/22) were:
Whilst the projection area will be larger, the applicant stipulates there will be no overspill onto other buildings, and it seems the luminance has been greatly reduced from more than ‘annoying‘, to a level that won’t be overbearing, but still considered ‘slightly annoying‘, according to SMPTE. The changes appear to be considerate of neighbours. Most commendable. In fact, in answer to the question whether neighbours or the local community have been consulted, the applicant ticked yes, adding:
“The Cube (opposite) have been part of discussions around the location of the projection and have been accommodating and supportive of the idea.”
The Cube was one of Sir Roger’s projects to transform Folkestone and is where the projector is located. We’re not sure that talking to the owners of The Cube, The Roger De Haan Charitable Trust, or the two leaseholders, one of which is The Shepway Sports Trust, whose principal donor is The Roger De Haan Charitable Trust, counts as community engagement.
However, a curious specification present on both application forms took our eye:
We think that the F51 team might want the text to be a tad larger than 0cm! In fact, they already have used the projector on numerous occasions, projecting text well over a metre high. The applicant admits that “a test evening was undertaken to demonstrate the ambition of the projector” in their Projector Document written on 18 February. However, nearby residents have reported frequent ‘testing’ since then, including a two hour session on 7 March, during which a video of skateboarding made a resident “feel carsick” whilst standing still! More recently, a static text-based message has been projected, with the text standing nearly 2 metres high.
The Roger De Haan Charitable Trust can be added to our list of planning applications taking advantage of a loophole. Sadly, Gareth Bacon’s Unauthorised Development (Offences) Bill was withdrawn before its second reading, so developers will continue to flout the rules, safe in the knowledge they will probably only receive a gentle slap on the wrist in private. Perhaps Will Smith should tell them you can react more forcefully when someone is out of line and still receive an award!
The Shepway Vox Team
The Velvet Voices of Dissent
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