A set of 53 solar panels at a Grade II listed hotel in a Buckinghamshire town have been given retrospective planning permission.

The North Buckinghamshire Area Planning Committee voted unanimously in favour of Philip Menday’s application for the panels at the Bell Hotel, Market Square, in Winslow, which dates to the 16th century.

The approval of the application overrules a planning officer’s recommendation that retrospective permission be refused for the solar panels after it was called in to the committee by local councillors.

Of the solar panels, 26 are on the “roof of the modern function room to the rear of the Grade II listed Bell Hotel with the remainder located on the patio next to the building”, according to the Heritage Statement submitted as part of the application.

Buckinghamshire Council’s Heritage Team was among those who objected to the solar panels due to the “harm to the appearance of the Grade II Listed Bell Hotel Public House and to the special character of Winslow Conservation Area”.

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In the report, the council’s planning officer said: “The installation of the solar panels is considered to result in an unacceptable visual impact on the setting of the Bell Hotel Public House and detracts from the appearance of the Grade II Listed Building.”

However, councillors on the committee disagreed, including councillor Peter Cooper who put forward a proposal to recommend approval of the application after explaining why he thought that there was not an “unacceptable adverse impact”.

He said: “The decision we have to take is whether this is an ‘unacceptable adverse impact’. In my view it is not and therefore the application should be approved.”

Councillor Frank Mahon claimed the planning officers had given too much weight to the visual impact of the solar panels, which were installed between November 2022 and July 2023.

He said: “I have visited that pub between November and July probably three times for Sunday lunch and I have never ever seen the panels.

“I never even knew there were panels on that property until the papers came through my letterbox.”

Planning officers said they considered the solar panels to be contrary to Vale of Aylesbury Local Plan, the Winslow Neighbourhood Plan and the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990.