Monday, 11 December 2017

Quakers told no to ‘awful’ solar panels

THE Quakers have been criticised by councillors for wanting to install solar panels at their Henley meeting place.

THE Quakers have been criticised by councillors for wanting to install solar panels at their Henley meeting place.

The Religious Society of Friends wants to have 16 black Solarworld photovoltaic panels on the roof of the building in Northfield End.

The panels would be fixed beneath the slates using Schuco rails and brackets. The surface of the panels would be 11cm above the level of the existing slate finish.

The work would take a day but scaffolding would be needed to access the roof. The contractor’s equipment and vehicles would use the adjacent Wheeler’s Yard.

The town council’s planning committee has recommended the application is refused.

Councillor Lorraine Hillier said she felt solar panels were obtrusive and she was surprised that the Henley Society had not objected.

Committee chairman Dieter Hinke said the panels would “look awful”.

Councillor Sam Evans added: “They don’t seem to have made any effort to make them fit in — the size, style, the whole caboodle.”

Eddie Booth, a conservation officer at South Oxfordshire District Council, says the building is historic and makes a positive contribution to the character of the conservation area.

He said: “Although efforts have been made to specify PV panels with black frames, the fixing rails would appear to be self-finished aluminium or stainless steel and the panels would protrude at least 100mm from the surface of the roof.

“Fixed to the south-west slope of the Meeting House roof, the panels would be clearly seen in the context of listed buildings such as 45 Northfield End and Oxford Lodge.

“In my view, they would detract from the setting of the listed buildings and from the character and appearance of the conservation area.”

He says the application does not meet guidance set by English Heritage to minimise the visual impact and to demonstrate that other locations had been considered.

The district council will make a decision by July 8.

The Friends Meeting House has been a place of Quaker worship for more than 350 years and is attached to the Meeting House cottage, which was given Grade II listed status in 1974. The first Quaker meetings were held at the house of William Waters in Northfield End, probably in 1658.

The Meeting gradually consolidated its position in Northfield End by the steady accumulation of land in the area and the use of a building hired for Quakers.

In 1672, the Henley Meeting purchased two cottages and seven acres of land and one of these cottages is the present Meeting House cottage. It was built in 1894 and was refurbished in 2003.

lThe committee recommended acceptance of a revised application to add a music dancing area at the Chef Peking restaurant in Henkey Market Place. Owner Nuno Rosado has added plans for an entrance lobby to help contain the noise following criticism that the business would become a “nightclub”.

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