Council bans solar panels in one Conservation Area but is to allow them on its own building in anoth

PUBLISHED: 15:45 23 April 2008 | UPDATED: 13:12 06 May 2010

A BID to install solar panels on the roof of the St Albans District Council offices in the city centre is set to fare better than a similar scheme proposed by a local resident. At the risk of being branded hypocrites, planning officers are recommending ap

A BID to install solar panels on the roof of the St Albans District Council offices in the city centre is set to fare better than a similar scheme proposed by a local resident.

At the risk of being branded hypocrites, planning officers are recommending approval for the installation of the solar panels on St Albans Civic Centre, which is in the Conservation Area, at a meeting next week.

Yet last summer the same council rejected a bid by York Road resident Francis Lefeber to put solar panels on his house claiming it would be out of keeping with the Conservation Area there.

Mr Lefeber applied to put the panels on the side of his house but St Albans District Council planners told him they would be visible from the street and would not fit in with the area.

They said the application would only be acceptable if he put the panels on the back of his house despite the fact they would have been out of the sunlight and would not produce adequate energy.

Mr Lefeber later appealed against the decision but a planning inspector upheld the rejection again on the grounds that the panels would not be in keeping with the rest of the Conservation Area.

Next week councillors are being recommended to permit the installation of 75 solar panels on the roof of the Civic Centre.

A report to St Albans plans central committee explained that officers had rejected less visible places on the Civic Centre roof to put the panels because there would not have been enough space for the number of panels required to produce sufficient energy.

The council says it is installing solar panels on the Civic Centre to demonstrate its commitment to sustainability to the community by leading by example.

A council spokesman said they considered each application on its individual merits and the York Road site was significantly different to the one in the city centre.

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