Solar panels for former Falkirk hospital get green light despite objections

A B-listed former hospital in Falkirk that is now a private home can install an array of solar panels and a fence to hide them, despite objections from neighbours.

Objectors said the 12 ground-mounted solar panels beside the former Lochgreen Hospital, built in 1881, would detract from the character of the building at 1 Princess Gate, Slamannan Road, Falkirk.

A meeting of Falkirk Council 's planning committee today (Wednesday), heard neighbours were concerned by the fact that the solar panel array would not be fully hidden by the fence being built to hide them.

Read more: Falkirk Council object to plans to split the area into three for Holyrood elections

A report from planning officers recommended approval as they felt that the character of the building had already been changed by its transition to a home, the addition of a modern garden room and by the fact that it is surrounded by modern build houses.

But neighbour Jamie McSween said that was "like saying it would be okay for Edinburgh Castle to get a modern extension because there are modern flats around that".

He said: "A listed building is a listed building - it shouldn't change because of the buildings around it."

Historic Environment Scotland said it had no objection to the proposals and members were also told that tackling the climate emergency is a priority when making any planning decisions.

The applicant, Professor Kurt Mills, could not attend the meeting but his wife, Sheila Mills, thanked members for taking the time to visit the site before making the decision.

She told the meeting that the panels will "allow us to play our part in addressing the climate emergency".

Mrs Mills said: "Hopefully when you visited you saw we have done everything we can to minimise the impact of the development on our listed building, on our neighbours and on the surrounding area."

Members agreed that the panels should be allowed to go ahead but added a condition that there should be appropriate screening to hide them from view.

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