Chiswick Couple Lose Appeal On Solar Panels

Inspector rules they cannot retain panels put up without permission


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An elderly Chiswick couple have lost their appeal against a Council enforcement order to remove nineteen controversial solar panels at their home.

James and Joy Skinner of Heron House, Chiswick Lane South, had their latest appeal dismissed and the enforcement order to remove the panels still remains in force.

The photo shows the panels on the right

While the Inspector had "not found the panels to be offensively intrusive in the street scene", he also found that they were " a sizable and somewhat discordant feature in an area in which national policy advances the desirability of preserving or enhancing its character or appearance"

The Skinners have written to the Council to see if they can reach a compromise. They said the Mayor Boris Johnston had commended them "for embracing low carbon technology and installing solar panels”.

Last year the Skinners set up a petition to persuade Hounslow Council to allow them retain the solar panels installed on their house opposite the blank warehouse wall of Fuller's Brewery- the couple had installed the panels without planning permission in order to avail of a special reduction before the deadline. But Mrs. Skinner had claimed they did so only after consulting Hounslow Council officials who had said by telephone they were unlikely to be refused retrospective planning permission.

The Inspector's judgement states: "The panels cannot be said to enhance the appearance of this part of the Conservation Area. Their utilitarian modern look does not harmonise too well with the surroundings, failing to preserve the generally pleasant character of the area. Although Chiswick Lane South has a more enclosed feel than that of the attractive and distinctive riverside road Chiswick Mall, it is worthy of protection from a development that does not preserve or enhance the appearance of the area. Retention of the appeal PV solar panels on the side wall of Heron House would be in conflict with national policy to protect conservation areas and with local policies also drawn up to protect such areas."

The report took into account there had been some popular support from people who considered that the panels caused no harm to the appearance of the area, and that LBH regarded the generation of renewable small scale energy as a valuable benefit in the community. But, the Inspector added: "However, such proposals should minimise any harmful visual impact, a matter of particular concern in a conservation area. On the scale of the PV solar panels fitted to the side wall of Heron House, I consider that not to have been achieved. I dismiss the appeal and uphold the enforcement notice.”

James Skinner said that it seemed "baffling" that the Inspector found the panels not to be offensively intrusive in the street scene and yet still dismissed the appeal. He said public opinion had been massively in favour of retaining the panels where they had been for over two years. Nobody had so far claimed their quality of life had been harmed by the panels. The Council and Inspectors had ignored their offer to pay for an independent poll to be taken if they did not believe the results of their own poll, which was 166 in favour of leaving the panels where they are, against just 2 supporting the Council, he said.

January 12, 2015

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