Colin Firth and his wife Livia Firth have been leaders in the eco movement. The star couple has an eco-friendly home in Umbria, Italy but half their time is spent in their London home. So, it was only natural that the couple would want to make their London home as green as possible. Sadly, their plans have been thwarted for the sake of historic aesthetics.
The actor and his wife applied to place a solar panel on their home in Bedford Park, west London in an architectural conservation area. The solar panel the celebrity couple sought to place on their home was 7ft by 3ft 10in. But the Hounslow council decided the solar panel project the Firth’s wanted hadn’t proven its ability to produce more energy than other renewable energy sources. The original refusal by Hounslow’s council claimed “it has not been demonstrated that the solar panel will produce more energy than other renewable energy sources.”
A planning inspector has stepped in to back the Hounslow council’s decision by claiming that the solar panel was too large and would be of more harm than good.
Roger Shrimplin, the inspector, said, “The proposed solar panel would erode the architectural qualities of the listed host building itself and would cause actual harm to the character and appearance of the Bedford Park conservation area.” He went on to state that, “the harm done to the historic setting and the street scene clearly outweighs the benefits of the project.”
The solar panel would have been visible from the street. But the environment benefits of installing a solar panel are pretty weighty. It appears that this decision to prevent the Firth’s from eco-improving their home has been made purely because it might disrupt the aesthetic qualities of the Victorian estate of Queen Anne-style houses. Not because it would hurt the structure of the home.
The council’s move to turn down the proposal also seems a bit silly when the area is called “Bedford Park Conservation area.” Isn’t the purpose of a conservation area to be environmentally friendly?
Perhaps, the Firth’s and the council can work together to find a suitable alternative to the solar panel project that will keep more in-line with the council’s aesthetic sensibilities.
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