Solar FAQ: Do You Need Planning Permission For Solar Panels?

I recently heard a neighbourly dispute between two people who live near me.

‘Have you got planning permission for that?’ one shouted as he looked in horror at the enormous new outbuilding the other had erected.

It makes you think, doesn’t it. There are so many rules and regulations that apply when building or adding new things to your property. This leads a lot of people to ask whether you need planning permission when installing solar panels.

Let’s debunk the myth.

What Is Permitted Development?

When talking about planning permission, you’ll often hear the term ‘permitted development’ being thrown around. But let’s have less of the jargon and a more easy-to-understand concept.

Permitted development is used to refer to any changes, alterations or amendments to a property that do not require planning permission. The rules of this all come under the Town and Country Planning Order 2015 but in 2022, the rules were expanded, allowing larger projects to be undertaken without the need for planning permission.

So, what does permitted development include?

Well, as with anything, there are exceptions to the rules but generally speaking, permitted development covers things like:

  • Loft conversions
  • Rear extensions
  • Side extensions
  • Two storey extensions
  • Porches
  • Garage conversions
  • Change of use

Of course, all of these things come with limits, details of which can be found here.

So, Do Solar Panels Fall Under The Category Of Permitted Development?

Now that you understand the gist of permitted development, you’re likely wondering whether solar panels fall into this.

The good news is that, for the most part, you’re free to install solar panels under the rules of permitted development.

However, there are exceptions to this so I would still strongly advise taking the time to check with your local authority. The last thing you want is to install your solar panels only to find that they need to be taken down again.

When You May Need Planning Permission For Solar Panels

As I have mentioned, there may be times when planning permission is required for the installation of solar panels.

There are many things that may prevent you from installing solar panels without planning permission including if you live in a listed building or if your property is located within a conservation area of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

It’s also worth considering what planning permission may be required if you live in a flat or an apartment block.

If any of these things apply to your property then it’s well worth checking the rules before you go ahead with your installation.

In the event that you do have to apply for planning permission, there are several things that will impact the decision of the local authority. This may include how the solar panels will look and whether they will have an impact on neighbouring properties. This might include whether the structure will affect the amount of sunlight a neighbouring home receives, among other things.

Tips For Obtaining Planning Permission For Solar Panels

If you think that you may need to apply for planning permission for your solar panels then the first thing you’ll need to do is contact your local authority. It’s important to provide them with as much information as possible and they’ll then be able to advise you on whether you can go ahead with the work or need to make an application for planning permission.

When applying for planning permission, I know that a lot of homeowners can find this stressful. Not only is there paperwork to fill out but there’s the worry that your application won’t be approved. That’s why it’s really important to get it right the first time.

  • You will need to supply details about the project including the size and location of the panels. In some instances, drawings and plans may be required so be sure to have these prepared before you begin your application.
  • Keep in mind that there is usually a fee to submit your application. Fortunately, the whole process can normally be done online. Each application may incur a different fee so it’s important to use the fee calculator. Also remember that some projects, particularly those for listed buildings, may be exempt from a fee.
  • Make sure that, before sending your application, all details have been included. Typically, it takes around eight weeks to get a decision but this time frame could be longer if additional information is required.
  • If your planning permission application is not granted, there is an appeals process that you can go through. What’s more, if you haven’t had a decision within eight weeks of submitting your application, you can also appeal.

Final Thoughts

Solar panels are becoming more and more popular thanks to their ability to create a sustainable energy source. However, since they require adjustments and additions to the property, many people wonder whether planning permission is required.

The good news is that, in most cases, you don’t need planning permission to install solar panels. However, it’s always worth keeping in mind that there are exceptions to this rule so it’s vital to do your research before you begin any work.

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