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Conservation officer asks home owner to remove solar panels

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 15 October 2012 at 10:16 am

Solar PV is a permitted development, however that doesn't stop problems with planning cropping up. Individual councils are left to interpret the rules as they see fit. 

We have just heard of a recent example in Dacorum Borough Council in Hertfordshire. A YouGen reader had a 3kw system installed last September (2011). Recently he had a visit from an enforcement officer saying that the council wants them to remove or resite two of the panels.

The system consists of two strings on two roofs. One has five solar PV modules, the other, nine (see picture above).

A neighbour complained to the council about the solar PV installation. In a letter to our reader the council's conservation officer says: "I consider that the random location of the panel (sic), in particular those at eaves level, adversely detract from this roof slope and the setting of the listed building and curtilage listed buildings. There appears to be scope to relocate the two panels which are at eaves level on the southerly roof slope of the garage." (There isn't a garage at the property, the second string is on the roof of the two storey extentsion. Moving additional panels there is not possible as the inverter is not big enough).

Our reader writes: "Our house is not a listed building nor is it in a conservation area. The listed building is about 300 yards away We are a semi detached house and our neighbour also has panels on the same roof. The council has no problems with the installation next door. If you have any suggestions I would appreciate it."

I'd be very interested to hear any views on this case, especially from those with expertise in the field - and stories of similar problems with planning officials. Please add your thoughts in the comment section below. 


If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.

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5 comments - read them below or add one


solarpanelsComment left on: 16 October 2012 at 8:53 am

You're actually right, To all solar panels PV is a permitted development. I might be very interested to listen any your views on this case, especially from those with expertise in the field - and stories of similar problems with planning officials.


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Cathy Debenham

Cathy DebenhamComment left on: 16 October 2012 at 8:07 am

Posted by Richard Lawes on LinkedIn:

Permitted developments are seen by many councils as guidelines. From personal experience (although not solar panels) councils consider the strength of opposition neighbour feelings above the guidelines. Permitted development does not in any way mean guaranteed development.

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NicoleComment left on: 15 October 2012 at 11:15 am

Hello, my understanding is that Permitted Development of solar panels only applies as long as the property isn't in a Conservation Area, or a listed building, or under an Article 4 direction.   However, from my reading of the above, it could perhaps be a problem because the panels can be viewed from the listed building which is 300 yards away.  I think it is worth appealing this, and that further advice could be sought first from English Heritage who have produced a lot of guidance regarding renewables and listed buildings. 

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Bob Irving

Bob IrvingComment left on: 15 October 2012 at 10:25 am

Does a Conservation Officer actually have any power to decide where the homeowner puts his panels, when the house is not listed and is so far away from the listed one?

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Cathy Debenham

Cathy DebenhamComment left on: 15 October 2012 at 9:38 am

Not by my reading of the planning law, but I'm not an expert - I'd like to hear if anyone knows otherwise.

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