River Medway Kent

Medway Council’s Solar Panel Idea For Historic Headquarters Gets Rejected

Medway Municipal has been advised to deny permission to install solar panels on council offices as part of its initiative.

On Wednesday, June 29, the council’s planning committee will consider Medway’s application for eight new solar panels on its Gun Wharf headquarters.

Despite this, the council’s planning officers have recommended against the project, citing the Grade II listed office block’s concrete and brick construction as a reason.

Planning committee members were told that “the proposed solar panels will bring a contemporary, incongruous, and out of character element to a prominent elevation of the Grade II listed property and hence would be damaging to the architectural and historical significance of this building.”

Medway Local Plan policies and elements of the National Planning Policy Framework 2021 conflict with this harm.

To meet the energy needs of Gun Wharf, a building that is reported to account for 71% of the council’s energy use, a new 41.4kWp roof-mounted solar photovoltaic system’ would be installed on the existing roof, producing 42.9MWh per year.

The rooftops of Gun Wharf, which face south, east, and west, already have 26 sections of 15 solar panels, all of which face inward.

There are already solar panel modules in place at Gun Wharf, but they’re hidden from view in the courtyards at the top of the building, sources say.

To maintain the nature of the structure in long views and within the Brompton Lines Conservation Area, no other units were to be suggested as extra installations.

“The externally facing sloping roof on the south-facing southern elevation of Gun Wharf would make the proposed solar panels strikingly visible. This Grade II listed building’s original roof finish, materials, and design intention would be compromised if the planned panels were installed due to the cumulative impact and apparent roof slope elevation they rest on.

The appearance of a solar panel or another piece of equipment fixed to the exterior of a building is often regarded as unappealing. However, the proposed panels would be visible from the parking lot, the public pathway to the river, and the riverside promenade facing the building, even if they are not considered the main elevation. In addition, gun Wharf’s conspicuous location and tiered roof structure significantly enhance the proposal’s visibility.”

‘Waterless urinals’ and sustainable and ecological dual fast chargers’ are also part of the application’s proposals for Gun Wharf parking.

The application by Rainham Eco Hub, a group that works to combat the climate crisis, highlighted questions about the balance between safeguarding historic buildings and enhancing their green credentials.

Council’s aim to incorporate sustainable energy and the decision of the planning committee presents a fundamental problem on how to conserve and preserve our town’s legacy while dealing with a climate emergency,” Kayleigh Ward, a member of Rainham Eco Hub, stated. English legacy should immediately invest in research into how we can preserve our nation’s heritage,” says the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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