Q: My firm submitted an application for a wind turbine. The case officer preferred a different location around 80 metres away and across a road but technically on the same agricultural landholding. The local authority does not see the proposed location for the turbine as constituting part of the same site, so it will not allow the new application as a "free go" and wants to charge a £335 fee. Is it acting unreasonably in its interpretation of the regulations, or will my client have to accept its stance? MG

A: The criteria to apply in assessing whether there is an entitlement to a "free go" for fee purposes are that the applicant has to be the same, the location has to be the same site or part of that site and the proposals have to be similar. I presume the first criterion applies. Determining whether the second is met depends on where the site boundaries, normally denoted by a red line, have been drawn on the two applications. It should be fairly easy to decide whether the planning authority has assessed this correctly. The third criterion is subjective and depends on the nature of the proposals. If the new position is 80 metres away and over a road, it seems reasonable for the authority to argue that it is not similar. Unfortunately, if you disagree on the fee assessment, the only remedy is to appeal against non-determination and see if the Planning Inspectorate will accept your point of view. John Harrison

Next questions

The General Permitted Development (Amendment) (No 2) (England) Order 2008 allows solar panels on principal roof slopes, including in conservation areas, as long as the panels are sited to minimise their visual impact on the building's external appearance and the area's amenity. Home owners wish to completely cover their south-facing front roof slope with solar panels, which would be very harmful to a conservation area. The owners have not demonstrated whether they have explored other less harmful locations such as outbuildings, the rear roof slope or mounted on a pole in the back garden. Would we be within our rights to say that the order's conditions have not been met and require an application? CM

Class A.1 (h) (iii) of the October 2008 amendments to the General Permitted Development Order 1995 states that a side extension to a house is not permitted development if its width would be greater than half the width of the original dwellinghouse. The Department for Communities and Local Government's August 2010 technical guidance is silent on whether a "half width" extension on each side of a detached house on a large plot would be permitted, thus doubling its width. I do not think this can be the order's intention, but I would be grateful for your views. KZ

Do you have an answer to these questions? If so, please email it to Forum editor John Harrison at by 26 October. We also welcome your queries, which can be emailed to the same address.

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