Is planning permission required for solar thermal panels?

Planning permission is not required for the installation of solar thermal panels on most domestic houses, unless the property is listed, or in an area of outstanding natural beauty. It is important to note that Regulations are subject to change, so for more in depth information and advice, please contact your Local Authority or visit the Energy Savings Trust website.

Discover more about Grant solar thermal systems. 

Understanding Planning Permission

Gaining planning permission is a crucial step in the process of either building or renovating a property - when required it ensures that the project meets all the relevant building regulations and standards. Not all building works will require planning permission, so it is important to check with your local planning authority if your works are exempt and fall under what is known as permitted development rights which means you can carry out certain types of work without needing to apply for planning permission. However, it is important to consider that many permitted development rights which apply to houses may not apply to flats and maisonettes when a solar thermal hot water system is being considered.

Definition of Planning Permission

Planning permission relates to whether you need to seek prior permission from your local planning authority before commencing with alterations to your property. The installation of a solar thermal hot water system with panels on your roof is one such alteration you can make to your home, however, in the majority instances, the fitting of solar panels and equipment on residential buildings is considered ‘permitted development’ and will not need planning permission. There are exceptions to this, such as listed properties or properties located in areas of outstanding natural beauty, so it is important to speak to your local authority to ensure all conditions are met prior to an installation getting underway.

Determining the Need for Planning Permission

To help you determine whether or not you need to seek planning permission to install solar thermal collectors on your home, we have shared a handy checklist for you to follow here:

Location-Specific Regulations:

1. Check with your local planning authority – it is always recommended that you speak to your local planning authority to ensure your installation meets the specific requirements of your local area. To find you local planning authority, follow the link here.

2. Check your Permitted Development Rights – the scope of permitted development rights will vary according to property type, location and other factors so research the Permitted Development Rights of your home. The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 details the conditions where development is and is not permitted so follow the link here to read more.

Building Type:

3. Residential Buildings: In most instances, planning permission is not required for the installation, alteration or replacement of solar thermal equipment on a dwellinghouse, block of flats or on a building situated within the curtilage of a dwellinghouse or block of flats. Exceptions to this include listed buildings, sites which are designated as a scheduled monument or instances when the solar thermal equipment protrudes more than 0.2m beyond the plane of the wall or the roof slope or when the highest part of the solar thermal equipment is higher than the highest part of the roof (excluding a chimney).

4. Commercial Buildings: As with domestic buildings, the installation, alteration or replacement of microgeneration solar thermal equipment on a building is considered permitted development but there are several conditions and exceptions. Please refer to Clause J of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 for the full list of exceptions and conditions for non-domestic buildings.

Property Designations and Conservation Areas:

5. Conservation areas: If the property where you propose installing solar thermal panels is located within a conservation area or a World Heritage Site, and the solar thermal equipment is going to be installed on a wall which front a highway, the installation would not fall within permitted development rights. We would recommend speaking to your Local planning Authority for further clarification on the necessary permissions you may need to seek.

6. Listed Buildings: If you are wanting to install solar thermal equipment on a listed building or on a building that falls within the curtilage of a dwellinghouse or block of flats which are listed buildings, the installation will not fall within permitted development rights. Again, in such circumstances, please contact your Local planning Authority for further information.

Aesthetic Impact:

7. Visual Considerations: It is important to consider the visual impact of installing a solar thermal system. Solar collectors, such as those supplied by Grant UK, have been designed to be sympathetically integrated with traditional roof types and styles but there are some key conditions that are outlined in the Town and County Planning Order 2015. For example, the solar thermal equipment should be sited, so far as is practicable, so at to minimise its effect on a building’s external appearance and to minimise its effect on the amenity of the area.

8. Screening and mitigation: There are steps you can take to minimise the visual impact of your solar thermal equipment, such as choosing collectors with frames that are in keeping with your roof, but with regard to screening, this is limited because any shading of your collectors will impact their performance so any measures you take must not negatively affect the collectors’ surface area.

Why Each Point Needs to Be Considered

Compliance with Regulations:

It is important that the installation of your solar thermal system adheres to local planning permission regulations and it is crucial that this compliance is sought prior to the installation commencing. Otherwise, you could incur unwanted costs to remedy and correct any non-compliances.

Avoidance of Disruption:

By ensuring compliance prior to installing a solar thermal system, this will help you avoid any unplanned disruptions to your installation project, which can save you time and money.

Aesthetic Harmony:

As with any changes you make to the external appearance of your property, it is important to consider the visual impact of a solar thermal installation to ensure that it does not detract from the aesthetic appeal of your property and/or the surrounding the area.

Preservation of Historic Buildings:

Restrictions that are in place on listed or historic buildings are there to preserve the character of such properties so when discussing any necessary planning permissions with your Local Planning Authority, always be mindful of this.

What are the exceptions where planning permission may be required?

As previously mentioned, planning permission may be necessary for the installation of solar thermal equipment, if your property falls under any of the following categories:

- Listed building: If your home is a listed building, you may need to obtain planning permission before installing solar thermal panels.

- Area of outstanding natural beauty: If your property is located in an area designated as an outstanding natural beauty, you may require planning permission.

- Conservation area or World Heritage Site: If your house is situated in a conservation area or a World Heritage Site, planning permission might be necessary.

- Standalone solar equipment (panels not on a building but within the grounds of a house or block of flats) Only the first standalone solar installation will fall under permitted development rights, any further installations will require planning permission.

How can I confirm if planning permission is required for my specific property?

It is essential to check with your Local planning Authority or consult the Energy Savings Trust website for up-to-date information and advice regarding planning permission for solar thermal panels. Regulations can change, so it is important to check the latest requirements in your local area when planning your solar thermal installation with your installer.

Are there any additional considerations apart from planning permission?

Yes, there may be other factors to consider. For example, there might be specific restrictions or guidelines concerning the placement and appearance of solar thermal panels, especially in conservation areas or World Heritage Sites. It is advisable to seek guidance from your Local Authority or relevant regulatory bodies to ensure compliance.

Please note, the information provided here is based on general guidelines, and it is always recommended to consult with local authorities and your installing engineer for specific advice regarding your property and its requirements.

Browse Grant UK's Solar Thermal Range here.

Renewable Heating Systems

From air source heat pumps and solar thermal systems through to hot water cylinders, Grant has an extensive range of renewable heating products.

View our Renewable Heating range

Visit our Knowledge Hub

Discover more about renewable heating and rise to the challenge of achieving a net zero carbon future.

Take me there
Return to top