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Possible Block On Solar Panels Overlooking Parkland

Well we didn’t expect to be back in Harrogate for another post so quick but there is some interesting news that has been released recently.

Council chiefs in Harrogate are possibly intending to overrule national planning guidelines to stop properties that overlook the Stray from having solar panels installed.

It has come to the attention of the Yorkshire Post that planning officers at Harrogate Borough Council have put together a report urging Councillor Alan Skidmore who is the cabinet member for economic development, transport and planning to support proposals that will limit development rights on these buildings.

The Stray is a huge expanse of parkland covering some 200-acres that King George III gave to Harrogate residents in 1778. Because of an Act of Parliament that is still in force that prevents development, residents would have to apply for special agreement to have solar panels installed. This would have potential implications for hundreds of homeowners who overlook the Stray.

It was only in December 2011 that the Government made public changes that meant residential homes no longer needed planning permission to install solar panels.

York Council’s Green group leader, Councillor Andy D’ Agorne, said that the decision made by neighbouring Harrogate Borough Council is a step backwards during a period when people are finding it difficult to pay energy bills.

He said: “This clearly has implications for conservation areas elsewhere.

“Councils should be putting forward guidance for what are appropriate designs of solar panels.

“If people are prepared to invest in renewable energy, they must be encouraged to do so.

“We all obviously need to protect our heritage, but we do have to have a balance with trying to improve sustainability.

“This is a very short-sighted approach from Harrogate Borough Council. They should be looking at design guidance rather than just saying no.”

The report was triggered by an application for a commercial building in Raglan Street to install solar panels that the Harrogate Civic Society opposed.

If it is agreed, the proposition to enforce an Article 4 Direction, will be placed before a planning committee of Harrogate Borough Council with a view to a formal decision being made.

Henry Pankhurst, who is chair person of Harrogate Civic Society, commented: “We do all want to see cheaper energy and an overall reduction in energy use.

“This does not mean to say that there will be no scope whatsoever for solar panels.

“It means that if they are to be allowed, you will have to apply for planning permission.

”This is not a blanket ban and we will not object to every single application.

“To protect what is valuable in terms of listed buildings and the conservation area, we have to be very careful.

“The Article 4 will only apply within the conservation area.”

Mr Pankhurst referred to the 39 solar panels that were installed unobtrusively in April on the roof of St Mark’s Church.

We await further developments.

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