Langtons Wharf is a striking, four-storey residential development in the heart of Leeds. Right by the river, and within a stone’s throw of the parish church, it is tucked away in a quiet and secluded side street, but is only a few minutes’ walk from all the facilities of the city centre.
The development was built in 1992 and comprises 67 flats spread across three separate blocks, linked by an underground car park. About half the flats are owner-occupied, many by young professionals.
When Langtons Wharf was built, the developers installed a communal aerial and a satellite dish. But neither worked well. Ironically, it was the building’s desirable city-centre location that caused the problem – bigger buildings began to go up nearby, and the TV reception, which was never very good, got worse as the years went by. Some residents were lucky enough to be able to receive one or two channels intermittently. But others – often having bought their flat without knowing of the problem – could receive none at all.
Those residents whose flats allowed a direct line of sight to the satellite were able to put up their own minidishes, and many of them did so. But this just made it even more frustrating for those who were on the other side of the block and who had no such option. Meanwhile, the lack of reliable TV reception was decreasing the value of the flats and negating the benefit of the development’s wonderful location.
In the autumn of 2007, the eight directors of the residents’ association asked their managing agents, Springhouse Properties, for advice. Springhouse recommended that they get an Integrated Reception System (IRS) installed, on the grounds that it would provide reliability and flexibility. It would comprise just one satellite dish and terrestrial aerial for the entire development, with each flat wired to both. This would allow residents to choose to access terrestrial TV, satellite TV, or a combination of the two – and to make that choice right away or at any time in the future. Even better, an IRS would, if the directors wished, provide CCTV, enhancing the block’s security.
One of the directors, Paul Middleton, arranged for three companies to send him a quote for installing an IRS. The one that Paul accepted was from a Sky-approved installer, Tel-Aer. The quote was competitive, but what really impressed Paul was the knowledge and professionalism of Tel-Aer’s representatives.
One of those representatives, Gary Hirst, explained to Paul that Langtons Wharf’s existing wiring was in good shape, so he wouldn’t need to run new wires into each flat. All that was needed was an amplifier and “split” on each floor so that the flats would be able to get good TV reception in both their living room and main bedroom. As for the roof-top location of the aerial and satellite dish, Gary made sure that they weren’t just positioned for optimum reception, but he also ensured they weren’t visible from street level. And he took care to run the system’s cable – linking the aerial and dish to the interior – behind a drainpipe, making it completely invisible and maintaining the block’s impressive exterior.
Gary also took down all the minidishes that residents had put up. But in doing so, he showed the sensitivity that Sky expects from its approved installers: he gave residents who owned minidishes four weeks’ notice, giving them plenty of time to get used to using the new system.
The installation took Gary and his team just three days, and was completed in time for Christmas. At last, after 16 long years, Langtons Wharf has a TV system that works. And not just any old TV system, but the most advanced communal system available.
Some of the residents had lived in their flats for a decade or more and had never had any TV signal. Now they have perfect reception, a choice of satellite TV, terrestrial TV or both and they can also get Sky+, Sky Broadband and Sky Talk – just as people people living in houses can. Already, 20 residents have subscribed to Sky, and others can choose to do so whenever they like, because their flats have the wires and connection points. What’s more, the whole development is all set for the upcoming digital switchover.
Paul Middleton was impressed not just with the results, but with the smooth process: “Thanks to Tel-Aer’s hard work, the whole thing worked wonderfully and seamlessly”, he said. “They promised to have it all completed by Christmas, and they were true to their word. Our residents are delighted. We’ve even improved our security and peace of mind with the CCTV system, which means that we can see the doorways and the underground garage from the comfort of our flats, and we know that all the footage is recorded if we ever need to use it. That’s a real bonus, because video door-entry systems can be enormously expensive.
“The IRS has raised the value of the flats, because who would want to buy a flat without TV reception? Now we can compete on equal terms with the newer developments, and really make the most of our greatest advantage – our wonderful location. In short, the IRS has done nothing but good for this development.”