Controversial solar farm on the edge of Northampton is refused by planning board

Plans for a solar panel farm in Kingsthorpe Meadows have been refused by Daventry District Council.
Plans for a solar panel farm in Kingsthorpe Meadows have been refused by Daventry District Council.
  • Large solar farm plan refused by Daventry District Council
  • Land at Kingsthorpe Meadows was subject to an auction battle in 2008
  • Planning committee says solar farm would have visual impact on the landscape

A controversial solar farm on the edge of Northampton has been refused after a planning committee said the panels would create a 28-acre eyesore.

The green land at Kingsthorpe Meadows was the subject of an auction battle in 2008 when residents’ group NN2 raised £98,000 to turn the site into a nature reserve - only to be out-bid by the daughter of a Conservative borough councillor.

We have had the Sword of Damocles lifted from us

Councillor Sally Beardsworth

Land owner Nadia Azim, daughter of Councillor Iftikhar Choudhary, (Con, Abington) drew up a planning proposal with Lancashire based Green Switch Solutions to install the solar farm on 28 acres of the site, while the other 14-acre patch was handed over to the residents’ group for £36,000 in 2009.

But that solar panel plan was turned down by Daventry District Council at Monday night’s planning committee meeting.

In the authority’s reasons for refusal, it said: “The proposed development would by virtue of its location, scale and appearance result in an urban and incongruous visual intrusion on this distinct rural landscape.”

The council also said the solar farm would have a substantial adverse impact upon an open floodplain and said it would detract from the scenery enjoyed by walkers along Brampton Valley Way and the Kingsthorpe North Meadows Local Wildlife Site.

Councillor Sally Beardsworth (Lib Dem, Kingsthorpe) said she was delighted by the planning board’s decision.

She said: “People were really concerned about this.

“We have had the Sword of Damocles lifted from us, and we are really glad Daventry District Council has listened to all the petitions and emails people have sent in about this.”

The authority had received numerous complaints about Green Switch Solutions’ solar farm including a 70-name petition.

Speaking at a consultation meeting last year, Alan Hames, of the Nene flood Prevention Alliance, said: “I think this is an appalling plan. That land is there to protect Northampton.”

But it is not known whether Green Switch will appeal the refusal.

Assistant planner for the firm Josh Hellawell, said the company would meet over the next few days to discuss how best to proceed.

On the refusal he said: “They are going to be part of the rural make-up in times to come.

“It’s maybe a case of people getting used to that idea first.”