THE latest attempt to stop leaks that have for so long plagued the 47-year-old award-winning Isles of Scilly museum has foundered.
A proposal by the island local authority landlords that a canopy be put over a first-floor external walkway of six residential flats above the Hugh Street building was refused.
The adverse effect on the residents – a number of whom had written letters of objection – was given as the planning reason.
The museum/flats structure, by universal consent architecturally unattractive, was described by Steve Sims as an example of "'Sixties' Scillonian-Bulgarian brutalism".
Museum trustees' chair Katherine Sawyer, in a letter of "firm support" for the canopy proposal, said the leaks had "a considerable impact on the museum's ability to function".
Chief planning officer Craig Dryden felt the canopy – a treated timber-frame with twin wall clear polycarbonate roof covering – "would not result in any significant impact".
A number of councillors felt otherwise.
Avril Mumford, proposing refusal, said: "We have to consider the owners and tenants of the flats. They would get no kitchen fresh air while window cleaning would be difficult and maintenance and painting would need scaffolding.
"I would suggest we get a builder to have a look with the idea of resurfacing the walkway with lead flashing at the edges or fibreglass with a non- slip surface."
David Pearson, while "ambivalent", said he could not believe that "this canopy business is the solution", a view held by Gordon Bilsborough ("there's something wrong if you can only stop a leak by sticking a canopy over it. You have to listen to the people it affects", he said).
Andy Guy said they were "covering up a problem". He didn't think to cover it "at the expense of, who knows £15,000 to £20,000 is the right way forward". There had to be a better solution.
Roy Duncan said there wasn't anyone who didn't want the museum to be "sound" but clearly there were strong objections from those above "and I do think we have to take note of that".
Christine Savill criticised the design statement as "very weak".
Councillors who rejected their own authority's application chose "adverse impact on the residents' amenity" as the reason rather than the "visual impact" alternative.
Council chairman and museum curator Amanda Martin left the chamber for the item as did others.