Solar panels guidance

Before installing solar panels it's important to ensure your home or business is as energy efficient as it can be - that way you’ll get the most from your investment.

To find out more about how to use less energy in the home please contact the Energy Saving Trust advice centre free on 0800 512012 or by emailing energy-advice@est.org.uk.

Planning permission and solar panels

In many circumstances, solar panels fixed to the wall or roof of a house or block of flats are classed as 'permitted development' and do not require planning permission, providing that:

  • the solar panels do not protrude by more than 200mm beyond the wall or roof (measured perpendicularly)
  • the solar panel is no higher than the roof (excluding any chimney)

Solar panels in conservation areas

Planning permission is not usually required to install solar panels on the roof of a house or block of flats in a conservation area, even if the roof faces a highway. However, planning permission is required when installing solar panels or other equipment on a wall fronting a highway within conservation areas.

All installations must meet certain conditions:

  • the solar panels shall, so far as is practicable, be installed so as to minimise the effect on the external appearance of the building
  • the solar panels shall, so far as practicable, be sited so as to minimise the effect on the amenity of the area
  • any solar panels no longer needed for micro-generation are removed as soon as is reasonably practicable

Please note that freestanding solar panels are subject to additional restrictions, not covered here.

Solar panels and listed buildings

To install solar panels on a listed building you'll need listed building consent before you can commence. This is in addition to planning permission if any of the above criteria are not met.

If the solar panels are to be installed on a building 'within the curtilage of a dwelling' which is a listed building, planning permission will be required.

English Heritage provide guidance documents in connection with energy conservation and micro-generation.

Other things to consider

You will also need to check that there are no restrictions on development at the property as a result of:

  • any conditions imposed on the original planning permission
  • it being covered by what is known as an Article (4) direction
  • the deeds of the property listing restrictions that apply

Any of these could have removed 'permitted development' rights for certain types of development. If you are unsure of any possible restrictions applied to your home, complete a Householder Enquiry Form and we will check this for you and let you know whether it is within your 'permitted development' rights or if planning permission is required. There is a charge for this service, £72 (this includes VAT).

It's important to make sure the roof structure, walls and existing coverings are in sound repair prior to installation.

If planning permission is required to install solar panels on a domestic property, you will need to submit a householder application for planning permission.

You will need to include:

  • a location plan
  • site plan
  • existing and proposed elevations
  • roof plan
  • details of the proposed installation (for example the manufacturers' brochure/photographs)

If the site is within a conservation area, you will also need to submit a design and access statement.

Solar panels on commercial properties

Industrial buildings and warehouses

Planning permission for solar panels is required if:

  • the installation is used for any purpose other than those of the undertaking concerned
  • the installation is within 5 metres of any boundary of the curtilage of the premises
  • the external appearance of the building is materially affected

Schools, colleges, universities and hospitals

Planning permission for solar panels is required if:

  • the installation would not be incidental to the existing use of the site
  • the installation would be within 5 metres of any boundary of the curtilage of the premises
  • the height of any building as extended or altered would exceed 5 metres if located within 10 metres of a boundary of the curtilage of the premises, or in all other cases, the height of the building being extended or altered
  • the site is within a conservation area
  • the installation would be within the curtilage of a listed building

Office buildings

Permitted development rights in office buildings for solar panels only apply to alterations at ground floor level, therefore, planning permission would be required in the vast majority of cases.

Submit a commercial enquiry form to check.

Planning permission would always be required if the office building is located within a conservation area.

If planning permission is required to install solar panels on commercial properties, you will need to submit a full application for planning permission.

You will need to include:

  • a location plan
  • site plan
  • existing and proposed elevations
  • roof plan
  • details of the proposed installation (for example the manufacturers' brochure/photographs)
  • if the site is within a conservation area, you will also need to submit a design and access statement
  • if you wish to install solar panels on a listed commercial premises then a listed building consent form will be required

Application costs

If planning permission is required the submission fees are:

  • householder planning application is £172
  • commercial planning application is £195

There is no additional fee for listed building consent.

Other permissions needed for solar panels

Installing solar panels may require approval under the Building Regulations, due to:

  • the additional loading on the roof structure
  • the associated electrical works

To check whether you need to submit a building control application contact our building control team.


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