Council set to refuse historic town centre church solar panels

The church wants to install solar panels to help save money spent on energy bills
The church wants to install solar panels to help save money spent on energy bills -Credit:Google Street map

A Bedworth church is set to have plans for solar panels refused. All Saints Church in High Street has asked for permission to install solar panels to the lower roof on the south side of the building.

The church's plan has received a number of letters of support but it is being recommended that the application is refused due to it being a Grade II Listed building and is located within a Conservation Area. In a planning application agenda, the church says that it has been in the centre of Bedworth since 1300s

"We have a central position in the town, and maintaining the historic fabric is a significant cost to the church," the agenda states. "This could potentially lead to the church failing, and there being no one to look after the upkeep.

"If having this historic asset is, in itself, a public benefit, it is worth allowing us the means to maintain it, through the savings and income from solar panels." It goes on to add that some 600 people use the church for various sessions each week and the energy bill is ever growing."

READ MORE: Nuneaton live as church sealed off after serious police incident

READ MORE: Dog owners rave about affordable treats ideal for training that are 'big hit' with fussy pets

It adds: "All Saints spent £15,000 on energy last year. This cost is going up because of increasing usage the building has, in spite of significant economies in recent years," the report states. "We estimate that due to the increase in youth activities this year, that bill will rise to £18000. The installation of PV panels and batteries will see our energy bill drop by over £5,000 per year.

"A total of over the guaranteed minimum life span of the panels of £155000, and over the anticipated useful life of over £300,000. This saving will be passed on in public benefit by the provision of more community activities and greater use of the space for youth work, as well as supporting maintenance of the historic fabric."

Reasons for refusal

But, in the council agenda, officers say that no evidence has been submitted which states that church activities could not take place without the installation of the solar panels. "Therefore without any clear evidence which states that such activities would fail without the installation of the solar panels, this reason cannot be considered as a public benefit," the report states.

In regards to the costs, the council said: "No evidence has been submitted which states that without the solar panels, that the church could not continue to support future community activities.

"Similarly, no evidence is provided which states that the yearly savings are needed to support the maintenance of the church building and its historic fabric. In any case, the maintenance and support of the building is considered to be vague and cannot be seen as a public benefit. Additional community activities directly related to savings on energy bills could be seen as a small public benefit, however, this could only be afforded very limited weight."

It goes on to explain: "It is not considered that there are any substantial public benefits as a result of the proposal which would outweigh the harm."

The council also quotes Historic England guidance on the installation of solar panels on historic buildings, and how it should be demonstrated that other options have been looked.

"It does not appear that any alternative options for improving energy efficiency has been considered," the report states.

While the application is being recommended for refusal, it will be members of the borough council's planning committee who will make the final decision on whether it can go ahead or not. They are due to meet at the Town Hall on Tuesday, May 21.

Get all the Nuneaton and Bedworth news sent direct to you