Tuesday, 28 February 2012

When Liberty is not to my taste

Bear with me for a moment; there's a libertarian principle here somewhere. Firstly, I'll admit to either snobbishness or good taste (depending on your point of view) in relation to how homes look. I scorn laminate floors, despite having one in my kitchen, wince at 'Tudor' plastic windows in honest Victorian frontages, despair at concrete blocks paving over front gardens and yes, loathe satellite dishes. Most of the time it's none of my business how other people's houses look, except perhaps if my neighbour covers his elegant Edwardian facade with stone cladding and Tudorbethan 'leaded' plastic windows augmented with a 6' satellite dish; this would make my own home less saleable and lower its value and would be of legitimate concern. 

Because some buildings and groups of buildings are exceptional, their very presence adding to the general quality of life, they are protected from inappropriate alteration or destruction by law. If a home is listed, you can't do the things that are normally, in planning terms, Permitted Development. You can't change the external appearance without consent, or mount a satellite dish without permission. Sensible democratic constraint for the greater good, or insufferable restriction of liberty?

Of course much depends on how powers are used by the enforcing authority. In the case of Hackney council's blitz on unlawful satellite dishes,  I tend to agree with the Council. They look hideous. But that's just my own taste ...

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I hate satellite dishes as well. For some reason, they always smack of an impoverished area - even when it isn't. Two things about this technology; firstly it can be hidden, so the provider was just lazy and secondly, there is an alternative with cable. So there is no justification for this disfigurement.

I do think that there is an element of our old friend the Olympics in here though, even though the council deny it.

Coney Island

TrT said...

A libertarian would buy the house and preserve it himself.

Only an authoritarian would consider ordering others to appoint their homes in a manner deemed moraly pure by the central authority....

formertory said...

Be that as it may, given that the restrictions existed (and regardless of the rights and wrongs of such a system), the tenants accepted them when they moved in. Presumably they have the right of claim for recovery of expenses against their own lawyer or Circle 33 if they can show they weren't made aware of burdens and obligations applying to the property when they signed the tenancy?

And yes, the dishes look appalling.

Sean said...

I will not go along with the general Satdish are chav stuff but I will say that I have recently been in the middle east and looking out on the the skyline and seeing thousands of sat dishes are one of the most reassuring things I have seen from a libertarian point of view.

Laminates in the Kitchen is just plain out of order btw. oak maybe and tiles preferably but not laminates.

Anonymous said...

Whilst I can't support the ugliness of the dishes the council wanted shot of I DO take issue with the fact that they only decided to take action when the council coffers were empty due to tax cuts.....