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Is it possible to power our garden office with solar panels on its roof?

Voice Of EU



Having worked from home throughout the pandemic, we are looking at building an office at the end of our garden. 

We would like to make it as eco-friendly as possible. Can we put solar panels on its roof, and would we need planning permission?

If we can, is it possible to power basic amenities such as lighting and laptops directly from the panels, without having to run mains electricity out to the shed office?

And there an efficient way to heat the outbuilding, without having to plug in an electric radiator?

Having solar panels installed is good for the environment, but can be a costly investment

Having solar panels installed is good for the environment, but can be a costly investment 

Grace Gausden, This is Money, replies: Powering your garden office with solar panels is definitely more environmentally friendly than using standard electricity.

However, it is an expensive investment, and should only be considered if you are sure you can afford them – and you’ll need to assess if the outlay risks proving a false economy.

The answers to your queries will depend on where you live, the sort of office you want to install, and how much sun you are likely to get. 

One of your questions was regarding planning permission, and fortunately most homes don’t need it to install solar panels.

However, if the building has a flat roof, or if you live in a conservation area, you will need to check with the local council before going ahead.

The roof will also need to be strong enough to hold the panels, and there needs to be enough space to house the inverter – the component that converts the direct current produced by your panels into ready-to-use alternating current. 

In your case, you will need to check that your shed office, of shoffice as they’ve been dubbed, has the capacity to hold the panels as, depending on its structure, it might not be capable. 

A very sturdy well-built garden office-type structure may be robust enough, a converted common or garden shed probably won’t. 

Energy supplier Ovo Energy suggests getting a qualified installer to check before making a decision on solar panels.

The supplier says that the best homes – or sheds if they can take them – to install solar panels on are those with south-facing roofs with a pitch of 30 to 40 degrees. 

It doesn’t recommend putting solar panels on a north-facing roof, but says an east or west-facing roof still works well – though homeowners will probably generate around 25 per cent less energy. 

You could make money from your surplus energy

Previously, homes with solar panels could take part in the Feed in Tariff scheme, where homeowners with solar panels got paid for surplus energy they produced.

However, this closed to new applicants in 2019, save for a few exceptions, and has been replaced with the Smart Export Guarantee. 

This now means licensed electricity suppliers must offer a tariff and make payment to small-scale low-carbon generators for electricity exported to the National Grid, providing certain criteria are met. 

If you were to have solar panels fitted, this would definitely be something worth signing up to, as it would help you make some money back from your investment. 

How much you make will depend on how much electricity you transport to the Grid, as well as your export tariff rates.  

You can choose from a number of electricity suppliers to pay the tariffs. Here is a full list to choose from. 

Air source heat pumps are one of the best ways to heat a shed or office and are eco-friendly

Air source heat pumps are one of the best ways to heat a shed or office and are eco-friendly 

With regards to heating the outbuilding, solar panels are able to heat water that is passed through a series of tubes mounted on the roof, which will then feed a single radiator with warmed water. 

However, solar panels will heat water best when you need it least, for example in the summer months.  

An air source heat pump could be a good alternative to look at, as it would provide both heating and cooling. 

The pumps would absorb heat from the air outside to heat your office and provide hot water, and they can still extract heat when air temperatures are as low as -15°C.

The pumps can also cut carbon emissions by up to 23.36 tonnes over 10 years: the equivalent of 30 return flights between Heathrow and Madrid, according to data from energy supplier EDF. 

Air source heat pumps work by extracting renewable heat from the environment.  

While they need electricity to run, the heat output is greater than the electricity input: making them an energy efficient method of heating your home. 

They are easy to install, but are best suited to homes with lots of outdoor space as they typically sit outside the home. 

If you don’t have this, it would be possible to install electrical mains and plug in a radiator to use as and when you need it. 

Shoffices have increased in popularity as more people work from home during the pandemic

Shoffices have increased in popularity as more people work from home during the pandemic

We asked insurance experts to answer your query about planning. 

Ryan Fulthorpe, home insurance expert at GoCompare, replies: The current guidance provided by says an outbuilding should be single storey, with a maximum eaves height of 2.5 metres with a maximum overall height of 4 metres with a dual-pitched roof. Anything more than that would require planning permission.  

In extreme circumstances, you could be forced to make changes or even remove the outbuilding if it is found not to comply with local planning laws.

This guidance also suggests there is no requirement in the UK for planning permission should you want solar panels. However, there are a number of restrictions which can be found at the Government’s Planning Portal website.

For example, panels can’t be installed above the highest part of the roof, excluding the chimney, and they can’t stick out more than 20cm from the roof.

The panels are supposed to be placed so as not to have too big of an impact on the building, architecturally or aesthetically. 

If you no longer have any use for your panels, or they’ve broken and you’re choosing not to replace them, you’re required to take them down in a timely manner.  

As with all home improvements, but particularly for electrical and heating solutions and solar panels, you should seek the advice of competent professionals to ensure that work carried out is of a suitable standard.  

Finally, as with any other home improvements that you may undertake, you should inform your insurer in advance, otherwise it could affect any insurance claims in the future.

A spokesperson for Uswitch replies: You generally don’t need planning consent for solar panels. However, if you live in a conservation area or a listed building you should check first.

Also, if your solar panels would be visible from the roadside of the property you made need to apply for planning permission.

It’s best to check with your local council planning officer if you’re not sure.

Grace Gausden, This is Money, adds:  While it would be possible to fit solar panels to your roof, this is a long-term investment.

It could also be expensive to install air source heat pumps, as they typically cost between £9,000 to £10,000.

However, both are more environmentally friendly options than having standard heating running to the shed office.

You should take your time to do some research into how feasible it would be for you, and whether you would get enough energy from the panels to power the office. 

Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.

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Barings and HBD secure planning for London logistics scheme (GB)

Voice Of EU



Barings and HBD have secured detailed planning for a strategic logistics scheme in Rainham, London, transforming a 20-acre brownfield site. The new development, Momentum London, is being delivered by Barings and HBD in a joint venture partnership. It will create 381,814ft² of new logistics and industrial space across four units ranging from 41,000 -171,000ft².


The scheme will target Net Zero Carbon, BREEAM “Excellent” and an EPC “A+” rating. This is being achieved by dynamic design, careful consideration of materials, zero use of fossil fuels, maximizing photovoltaic solar panels, battery storage and intelligent building systems. The units will be 100% EV ready, including passive fleet charging to the yards.


The logistics park will be set in landscaped environment with picnic and public areas, as well as direct access onto the Thames Cycle Path, so that it brings further social benefits to the area. Positioned on the River Thames, with potential for jetty access, Momentum will offer an easy stepping stone into Central London and out via the A13, just minutes away.


Darren Hutchinson, Head of UK Real Estate Transactions and Managing Director at Barings, said: Momentum London will be a strategically located logistics scheme with strong environmental and social credentials, beneficial both to future occupiers and the communities around it. Logistics is one of Barings’ preferred investment sectors and Momentum London exemplifies the kind of developments we’re seeking, with a keen interest in exploring joint ventures like this one with HBD.”


Simon Quine, Senior Development Surveyor at HBD, said: “Industrial and logistics space remains in very limited supply across London, particularly larger distribution units. Momentum will plug that gap within the M25 and provide modern, sustainable logistics and distribution space to serve London and the wider South East market. Landscaping and wellness have been thoroughly considered, with careful design considerations and enhancements to the Thames Foot and Cycle path, which we hope will help occupiers to attract and retain staff.”

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Mirrored furniture trend can create the illusion of space in your home

Voice Of EU



Mirrored furniture provokes strong emotions. Some see it as the epitome of bad taste, flashy and bling. Others know that mirrors have magic powers.

A mirrored table or cabinet makes a room or a hallway appear more swish and spacious. It’s a trick that bars and restaurants employ to ensure their establishments appear roomier and more inviting — and they can add lustre to your home, too.

Choosing a piece of mirrored furniture also sends out a sign that you are aware of one of the year’s trends — the return of Art Deco, the influential style that emerged in the 1920s. 

Reflections: A mirrored bedside table. The power of the mirror to create an impression has been recognised for centuries

Reflections: A mirrored bedside table. The power of the mirror to create an impression has been recognised for centuries

It blended forms that celebrated modern machinery with decorative elements drawn from Greco-Roman culture and nature. 

The mirror was a favourite material, used on the surfaces of furniture and walls to supply a shimmering silver and gold effect.

Probably the most famous piece of Art Deco architecture is New York’s Chrysler Building. Completed in 1930, its sunburst-patterned stainless steel spire remains one of the key elements of the Manhattan skyline.

Art Deco console tables, drinks trolleys and other items from the era of the building’s construction sell for thousands on auction sites such as 1stdibs underlining the growing appeal of this aesthetic. 

Jamie Watkins, the co-founder of fabric and wallpaper company Divine Savages, explains Art Deco’s allure for a new audience.

‘Art Deco, with its bold geometrical patterns was such an iconic period for design: it’s synonymous with glamour and luxury.’

The resurgent popularity of Art Deco is also based on its practicality: a mirrored piece works with almost any interior, adding interest and depth.

The power of the mirror to create a wow impression has been recognised for centuries. 

Examples of this technique include the round mirror on the wall behind the bride and groom in Jan van Eyck’s 1434 Arnolfini Portrait in the National Gallery. It sends out the message that the couple are discerning — and wealthy.

Cheers: B&M's £25 oval drinks trolley with two mirrored shelves

Cheers: B&M’s £25 oval drinks trolley with two mirrored shelves

The hall of mirrors in the palace of Versailles was designed to be a place of beauty, but also to display the financial resources of Louis XIV, the Sun King. Mirrors were a luxury item until an inexpensive manufacturing process was invented in the 1830s.

In 2022, it is possible to pick up mirrored pieces for under £100. B&M has a £25 oval drinks trolley with two mirrored shelves that would lend an air of Thirties elegance to any gathering. The £94.99 Ellison serving cart (a U.S. term for drinks trolley) from Wayfair has a similar vibe.

If you believe that the right mirrored trolley would save you money on trips to bars, the larger £144.95 gold oval mirrored trolley from Melody Maison could be the thing.

A mirrored cocktail cabinet will dazzle guests. The £1,200 Primrose & Plum champagne and gold cabinet has a Jazz-Age feel.

The £299 Venetian sideboard from Furniture Market, meanwhile, is a more modestly priced way to conjure up the party spirit of the Roaring Twenties.

The show flats of apartment blocks are often equipped with mirrored cocktail cabinets containing bottles of spirits and crystal glasses. This makes buyers dream of dinner parties, with a prelude of aperitifs, but also serves to make the apartment appear even roomier.

A console table in the hall also creates an illusion of space which can be amplified by the addition of a lamp. HomesDirect365 has a range in the style of almost every era including Art Deco, Regency, the 1960s and the 1970s. Prices start at £233.

The bedroom is often the most cramped room in either a house or flat which is why this can be the best place to experiment with mirrored furniture. 

The desire to preserve family harmony is another reason. The other members of your household may prefer the kitchen and living room to be slick and understated, seeing anything mirrored as excessive.

In the bedroom, however, you can indulge your decor fantasies. Habitat has the one-drawer Hepburn bedside table for £76.

Next offers the antique effect Fleur bedside table which costs £225 for the one-drawer version and £275 for the two-drawer version. 

The Fleur is also available as a six-drawer chest for £599 or a £1,150 double wardrobe if you seek to waft around your bedroom channelling your inner 1930s Hollywood screen siren. 

Dunelm’s Venetian mirrored dressing table also offers a chance to live out your dream of silver screen stardom (£449).

If mirrored furniture has brought out your party animal, kindling a passion for Art Deco in every guise, Divine Savages offers Deco Martini wallpaper whose design is based on the geometric forms, with a hidden Martini glass within the print (£150 per roll).

Some of your guests may not be too busy checking out their reflections on the doors of the mirrored cabinet to notice this subtle and witty detail in the wallpaper.

Savings of the week! water jugs… Up to 52% off 

The Sandvig hammered-glass jug from is half-price at £22

The Sandvig hammered-glass jug from is half-price at £22

Sitting outside on a sunny afternoon is already delightful. But it is even more enjoyable if you are sipping on a cool drink or an iced coffee from a generously sized jug, or maybe even a Pimm’s. The arrival of the July sales means bargains abound.

If you prioritise practicality, Ocado’s textured lustre plastic picnic jug has 33 per cent off at £8.

The price of the pleasingly geometric plastic smoky-grey Prism jug from Wayfair is 16 per cent off at £10.10. 

If you would like to feel as if you are in the south of France, John Lewis has the plain glass Arles wicker-wrapped jug. It is reduced from £25 to £12, down 52 per cent.

Wanting something more elegant that you can also use for flowers? The Sandvig hammered-glass jug from is also half-price at £22.

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VGP acquires French logistics development

Voice Of EU




VGP NV and VALGO signed an agreement to purchase 32 hectares of land that housed the former Petroplus refining units in Petit-Couronne, near Rouen. This brownfield rehabilitation project is fully in line with VGP’s core expertise and strategy. Thanks to the six years ownership of the site by VALGO and its expertise in asbestos removal, soil and water table decontamination, in-situ waste treatment and development, this area has now become a suitable site for the development of new industries and business activities.


On the banks of the river Seine and close to the A13 highway, the 32-hectare area of land offers its future users a highly strategic location. Following the extensive depollution work carried out by VALGO, the site is now ready for redevelopment. VGP expanded into France only a few months ago and is delighted to start its French business activities in the dynamic Rouen Normandy metropolis area, via this major project. In total, around 150,000m² of land are set to be redeveloped to accommodate industrial and logistics projects, with work due to begin in 2023.


Jan Van Geet, CEO VGP, said: “VGP is delighted to begin its business activities in France on a site as exceptional as this one, with strong economic and environmental ambitions that are shared by both our partner, VALGO, and the local authorities. As the rehabilitation of brownfield sites is at the heart of our business, this project is a great opportunity for us to deploy our industrial and logistical know-how. The uncertain geopolitical situation and the rise in transport prices mean that companies are increasingly looking for local support to start their business. In this context, we strongly believe in the relevance of our integrated model with a long-term vision. We are now eager to get to work and bring all the expertise of the Group to the project.”


Francois Bouche, CEO VALGO, commented: “We are delighted that this huge piece of land has been sold to a major investor with experience in redeveloping brownfields in Europe. However, I would first like to celebrate the work of the men and women who worked so hard to make this colossal project a success. It took more than 1 million hours and over €60m in investment by VALGO to turn the page on over 80 years of refining on this site, which already employs 600 people.”

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