Many will remember the house in Bisley where the District Council planners said they must remove the solar panels - see full story here on my blog with comments. I have been meaning to update for ages as the Inspector's Decision on the Appeal has allowed the panels to go-ahead on this very fine Grade II Listed Building located centrally in our Conservation Area. This could be useful to others.
Photo: Copy of view of the panels from SNJ from last year
The whole village rallied around the appellant, signed petitions etc, and the Parish Council even convened meetings with the District Council to try and get them to change their initial refusal notice. To no avail.
The Inspector dry - but highly unusual - comment about 'local public opinion' notes that it is not usually taking that into consideration. Indeed the campaigners were told the whole way along the line by the District council that the Community was irrelevant in a heritage decision. This was not helped by problems like the District withholding key documents from public files due to computer changes in the Planning Department and what has been described by some as 'bungling badly their relationship with English Heritage'. I have to say I was surprised to learn that the EH based their opinion on photographs sent to them by the District rather than taking an independent view from a site visit.
Throughout the whole process the District Council apparently claimed that they base their decision entirely on EH's opinion. The Parish Council based theres on what I understand to be the correct view that EH provides an 'expert opinion' and guidelines - EH is not the planning authority.
The Inspector's comment that solar panels are part of a heritage building's 'organic history' seems to be quite important and will hopefully be useful to others seeking similar organic changes. See also here stuff re double-glazing and listed buildings.