Open Heritage was commissioned to provide research and documentation to support the local planning authority’s decision to refuse permission to build a large scale Solar Park in Hacheston, Suffolk. Proposals included installation of a series of photovoltaic arrays to produce 25MW of power, covering a 175 hectares of historic agricultural farmland, making it one of Europe’s largest solar parks. The installation involves siting of the array panels themselves and the associated equipment of inverter cabinets and control rooms. It is proposed that the site is to be screened using hedging which would reinstate historic boundary treatments found throughout the local region.
Suffolk Coastal District Council, the local planning authority, refused permission outlining that the proposed benefits would not outweigh the harms caused to the historic landscape. Particular attention was paid to the site being in the setting of a Grade II listed farmhouse. I provided balanced and robust research for the local authority to present at the public planning enquiry, which was scrutinised by the planning inspector and the public during the hearing. The report included analysis of relevant legislation, English Heritage guidance, local management policy and historic case law. Also included was historic research at the local records office to define the use and ownership of the farm land and setting. It is to be seen whether the Planning Inspector will decide if the project’s benefits will outweigh the proposed harms, and is in accordance with National Planning Policy Framework which is in favour of sustainable development.
Open Heritage can provide the supporting statement and documentation to reinforce planning applications at all stages, at initial enquiries or at appeal.