Worthing landlord battles to save solar ‘car charging station’ he built after neighbour complains

David Symons, 63, by the solar panel creation he made at his property in Little Pembrokes, Worthing
David Symons, 63, by the solar panel creation he made at his property in Little Pembrokes, Worthing

A landlord who built a solar panel ‘battery’ for an electric car in the back garden of his property is trying to convince the council to let him keep it.

In an effort to be more eco-friendly, optician David Symons erected the panels on a wooden frame behind the house he rents out to his employees in Little Pembrokes, Worthing.

David Symons, 63, by the solar panel creation he made at his property in Little Pembrokes, Worthing

David Symons, 63, by the solar panel creation he made at his property in Little Pembrokes, Worthing

But after a neighbour complained, planning officers from Worthing Borough Council paid him a visit and said the structure may have to be taken down.

The 63-year-old asked the council to at least give him six months to see if his project is a success.

He said: “I have a 27-year-old, and the future isn’t very bright for her and her children if we don’t do something quickly about climate change.

“In fact, my daughter said she would not have any children because of that.”

David Symons, 63, made a solar panel creation at his property in Little Pembrokes, Worthing

David Symons, 63, made a solar panel creation at his property in Little Pembrokes, Worthing

To the neighbour who reported him to the council, he said: “I think that people should be greener, and not be so selfish, especially if they have children or grandchildren, because this is a cost-effective way of using solar panels.”

After getting advice from engineer friends, David, from Boundary Road in Worthing, bought the materials for the frame, purchased the panels from a supplier in Lewes and set to work a month ago.

With the help of his tenants, he dug the foundations for the frame and erected the structure, fixing the panels at an angle to absorb the most energy.

Electricians would be coming next week to wire the panels through the house and to an electric car charging port on the front driveway. The panels would generate 3.5 kilowatt hours of energy – enough to charge the car and power three heaters in the house, David believed.

He said his ‘pioneering experiment’ would take pressure off the grid as more people converted to electric cars: “The council needs to look very carefully at Worthing’s energy production situation.

“If every single person who has a car in Worthing converts to an electric car, there will be power failures all the time.”

His next goal was to put solar panels in his seven student houses in Brighton to make them more affordable.

A council spokesman said: “Council officers visited the property in response to a complaint and are currently assessing whether planning permission is required to retain the solar panels.

“If it is the case that permission is required, the occupier will be invited to submit a retrospective planning application which will be subject to public consultation with nearby properties before a decision is made.”