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Conservationists Object To Solar Panels At Famous College

Back in the 1960s Prince Charles resided at New Court, Trinity College, Cambridge that is now the focus of attention for other reasons as the college are considering having two rows of solar panels installed. Around six of the solar panels would be able to be seen from Garret Hostel Bridge.

Trinity College Cambridge
(image credit: facebook.com/snapshotsofthepast)

However, conservationist groups are somewhat concerned that the installation of solar panels will have a detrimental effect at New Court as it is a beautiful world-renowned historic building. Dons are keen to make improvements to the student accommodation at the Grade 1 listed property that would include enhanced energy sustainability but there have been objections from conservationists including English Heritage.

The building was built in 1825 and English Heritage does not feel that improvements to the heating system in this way are a justifiable reason to make such an installation. In addition to the installation of solar panels it is also proposed to fit insulated linings on bedroom walls that will hide many of the features of historic interest such as the skirting and picture rails. Double-glazing is also proposed together with more bedrooms, more up to date kitchens and bathrooms.

In addition to English Heritage, another preservation society called the Georgian Group has objected. This means that should Cambridge City councillors support the scheme at its meeting on 9th January 2013 a final decision would still need to be made by a minister for the Government. Apparently, the college are claiming that the accommodation is not adequate for students to use and the heating of the building has become unsustainable as the heating has to be kept on from October to May to keep the rooms downstairs warm but this means that the upstairs rooms become uncomfortably warm.

It is the opinion of English Heritage that the solar panels would prove to be “distracting additions to the historic roofscape.” They are also concerned about the look of the proposed double-glazing and the wall insulation.

Sophie Pain is a planning officer who is in favour of the proposed scheme and feels that the planning committee should also support the updating of the building.

She said: “I consider that the proposed works do bring about a public benefit to those who work and live at the college, and to visitors and to residents of the city, as the building will be maintained and used for a functional purpose.

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