T&G Structural Engineers use advanced design technology to overcome planning concerns
Harold Le Seelleur was clearly a man with an altruistic outlook. When the well-known local builder passed away back in the late 1980s, he left Jersey a generous gift. Harold bequeathed a collection of properties to the island, primarily for the benefit of its aged, infirm and needy residents.
Among them was a somewhat dilapidated old property in Oxford Street, located next to what is now the Millennium Park. It’s known as the ‘Le Seelleur Building’. It became a site of considerable neglect and fractious controversy as arguments rumbled on about its past, present and future.
That time is now over. The Le Seelleur Building is coming back to life as three town houses.
Helping break the impasse was local company T&G Structural Engineers, responsible for turning architectural plans into a physical building. Their cutting-edge design capabilities were instrumental in brokering agreement between the building’s owners, keen to bring the crumbling structure back into use, and planning conservationists determined to preserve as much of the building’s heritage as possible.
T&G has been designing structures in Jersey for more than 25 years. The company’s experience and expertise spans projects of all sizes, from small residential properties to large-scale developments and civil engineering works. They operate in all sectors and enjoy taking on all manner of complexities.
Remodelling historic buildings always presents a particular challenge. Yet now T&G has a vital tool – or rather application – in their box that is perfect for helping overcome this. And designing changes to the historic Le Seelleur Building’s structure truly underlined its purpose and benefits.
‘We use the very latest design technology when working on all our projects,’ explains T&G technician Jake Cherrington-Hall, ‘which allows us to create intricate virtual 3D models of the entire building. Once rendered, we can use the model to explore and examine any part of the planned construction, from outside or from within. From a design perspective, this lends a tremendously powerful advantage. It means you can fully understand how structural elements come together. It’s great for clients too. They can ‘virtually’ walk through their entire building. This adds a whole new perspective to design – people get to see the finished product and potentially make changes before anything is built.’
For existing structures, like the Le Seelleur Building, this 3D technology allowed T&G to create an exact model of the property and demonstrate in detail the planned changes and their impact on the existing structure. Given its age – dating back to 1845 – and many unusual architectural features, the building is listed as ‘Site of Special Interest’, a status that drastically constrains any potential development. And Jersey’s Planning Department will rigorously defend this position.
‘As structural engineers we are very aware of obligations under Jersey’s planning laws when it comes to historic buildings,’ Jake continues, ‘and as designers, we are passionate about protecting our built heritage. The challenge in the past has been demonstrating this to the Historic Environment Officer. For the Le Seelleur Building we created a detailed 3D model of the proposed design and used colour coding to show every change the developer planned to make within and every element of the old building that would remain untouched. After reviewing this, planning permission was granted.’
So modern cutting-edge technology has proved instrumental in helping preserve a well-known part of Jersey’s historic past. And is perhaps pointing the way towards a more harmonious relationship between developers and conservationists in the future. As a builder and staunch islander, surely Harold Le Seelleur would be pleased.
Watch our video of the Le Seelleur Workshop