Revised plans to build solar farm near Northampton thrown out by planners

A landowner bidding to put 17,484 solar panels on a field near Northampton has had a second planning application refused.

Friday, 1st July 2016, 2:00 pm
Updated Friday, 1st July 2016, 3:01 pm
Library picture ABCDE SUS-160617-110533003

The developer wanted to put the solar farm on land to the north of Preston Deanery, despite protests from nearby villagers and parish councils.

But planners at South Northamptonshire Council refused the scheme yesterday, declaring “the tranquillity and remoteness of fields that act as buffer between Northampton and villages to its south have been protected”.

Councillor Roger Clarke, SNC’s portfolio holder for planning and environment, said: “While it is recognised that there is a need for more renewable energy, this proposal would have resulted in unacceptable harm to the character, appearance and tranquillity of the rural landscape, as well the enjoyment of a well-used and valued surrounding public right-of-way.”

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The proposals for Preston Lodge Farm included 17,484 solar panels, along with inverter/transfer buildings, two substations, a storage container and perimeter fence with CCTV.

The original planning application comprised solar panels to a height of 2.9m, which has been reduced by 0.44 metres to 2.456 metres. Other amendments included the relocation of ancillary equipment and housing; new native hedgerow planting and a revised delivery route.

Despite the revised amendments, Great Houghton and Hackleton Parish Council still objected to the proposals.

The officer’s report on the application said: “The proposed development by reason of its scale, location and appearance would appear prominent and incongruous in its rural setting and will have an adverse visual and industrialising impact on the area and its tranquillity.”

In addition, the site is within an area designated as an Important Local Gap in the Local Plan, designed to prevent the coalescence of Northampton with nearby villages and hamlets.

Planners also recommended the application for refusal as it did not include an appropriate level of archaeological evaluation and evidence to justify the loss of quality agricultural land.