Voyeurism Claims Over Buzza Camera Obscura Plan

The owners of a hotel on St Mary’s say plans for a camera obscura in the Buzza Tower amount to ‘voyeurism.’

Chris and June Jones of the Bell Rock Hotel say the 360 degree view from the tower will be an invasion of privacy by looking directly into nearby properties, including the hospital and healthcentre.

They claim nobody would escape being monitored by visitors to the attraction, and restricting the angle of view would be impossible, as everything is clearly seen from the base of the tower to the horizon.

“People walking along paths, sunbathing in their garden, children playing on the beach would all be closely observed seven days a week” they say, and cite comments describing a similar attraction in Bristol as ‘legalised stalking.’

Chris and June claim many residents do not realise the implications if planning permission is granted in May and have written to local Councillors and the hospital League of Friends for support.

However, Andrew Combes, who has come up with the plans for the Buzza Tower site, says he’s had a lot of positive feedback about bringing the disused tower back into service with the installation of the camera obscura.

From Radio Scilly

Andrew Combes Responds to the Criticism

He says he’s discussed the issues at length with planning officers and covered these in his planning application.

Andrew says the panoramic view can still maintain privacy of nearby properties by placing baffles in front of the viewing aperture, blocking any sensitive views and the angle of view can and will be set so as not to look in to those buildings.

“We will not be looking directly into nearby properties,” says Andrew.

He adds that the image from the obscura is not magnified and it cannot see through windows any better than the naked eye.

Andrew feels the use of the word ‘voyeurism’ seems rather emotive.

He says people visit these islands to enjoy the spectacular scenery and you could expand the accusation of voyeurism to all visitors, many of whom carry binoculars that have far more magnification than the obscura.

Andrew says that no one has any interest in voyeuristic behaviour and the viewing chamber will be staffed when in use, with an accompanying commentary on the scenery.

“The only ‘monitoring’ of comings and goings will be of the Scillonian and other boats in the harbour,“ he says.

Andrew said throughout the process of working with the Council to secure a sustainable future for Buzza Tower, the concerns of near neighbours and the wider community have been taken fully on board and the design has been amended accordingly.

The scheme has received some local support too.

Sabene Schraudolph, who owns the Country Guesthouse and sits on the Islands’ new Tourism Board, said the scheme “is the kind of attraction which is well suited for Scilly, something a bit quaint, but still unusual in these days.

“It is also better to have the tower looking cared for as it is a very prominent landmark.”

The proposal is likely to go before planners on the 22nd May.


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