Solar panel permission won on Grade I listed church

St Peter Mancroft is set to reduce its carbon footprint after permission is granted for solar panels, heat pumps and storage batteries at the city centre church.

The proposal, submitted by Nicholas Jackson of Nicholas Vanburgh Ltd, has been given the green light by Norwich City Council and the Chancellor of the Diocese of Norwich. It is the first proposal for solar panels to be granted for a listed church in the Diocese of Norwich.

As a Grade I listed medieval church, the impact on the architectural significance of the building was an important consideration, but evidence supplied by Nicholas Vanburgh showed that the solar panels will not be visible from ground level near the church, and glimpsed views of the solar panels from further away on Theatre Street will mostly be obscured by trees. The “level of damage to the architectural and historical significance of the church” was judged by the Diocese of Norwich’s Chancellor to be “low to very low”.

St Peter Mancroft Church from the Haymarket. Photo credit: Nicholas Vanburgh Ltd.

The judgement report also stated “My decision has been made much easier by the detailed, professional and balanced way in which the Petitioners and their advisers [Nicholas Vanburgh Ltd] have presented the application…”.

Nicholas Jackson, director of Nicholas Vanburgh Ltd and the church’s Fabric Officer, says: “I am delighted that this project has been given the go ahead, and that the Chancellor appreciated our thorough approach.  We worked hard to ensure that impact on the listed building was minimal, including designing bespoke roof mounting clamps that would ensure that the solar panel system would be fully reversible.”

The solar panels will be mounted on the South Aisle roof, hidden from the ground by the parapet. Photo credit: Nicholas Vanburgh Ltd.

St Peter Mancroft is one of many churches that have been seeking ways to reduce their carbon footprint in line with the Church of England’s target to be net zero by 2030, as well as save money on energy bills. In addition to the steps already taken, such as changing to LED lighting and using a 100% green electricity tariff, they also “feel a responsibility to lead the way in providing what energy generation we reasonably can from our own built assets.”

Nicholas Vanburgh worked closely with the church’s Vicar and churchwardens in putting together the application, as well as suppliers, Impact Solar and The Heat Pump Company.

The work is expected to go ahead in the summer of this year.