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Planning Permission For
Solar Panels: A
Homeowners Guide

Imagine the sun becoming your home’s personal power source, radiating energy straight into your daily life. Yet, before you can fully embrace this solar-powered dream, there may be a journey of permissions and regulations to navigate which might not be as swift or straightforward as one might hope. Fear not, though, for in this article, we provide everything you need to know regarding planning permission for solar panels on your property and guide you through the application process step by step. Plus, we shed light on recent changes to permitted development rules, making it even more accessible for those in need of planning approval to obtain it. 

Is Planning Permission Required For Solar Panels?

Installing solar panels on your home can often be done without needing planning permission, thanks to what’s called permitted development rights. This means you can typically add solar panels to your roof or wall without jumping through planning hoops. However, there are rules to follow to make sure your installation qualifies for this perk. 

For most homes, including detached, semi-detached, and terraced houses, as well as most types of outbuildings, solar panel installations fall under permitted development rights, and therefore, will not need planning approval. However, there are conditions that apply to ensure your solar project qualifies for permitted development so it’s smart to double-check with your local planning authority to be sure about your specific situation. 

Whilst in most cases a property will not need planning permission for solar panels, especially if they are on a dwelling and not easily seen from the road, some properties, like listed buildings, flats, or those in conservation areas, might need permission to preserve the area’s look and function. Again, always check with your local planners to be sure. 

Your chosen professional installer, who should be MCS-certified, will also assess your roof to make sure it can handle the weight of the solar panels, following relevant building regulations. 

Exciting news is afoot for those in need of planning permission!

In November 2023, the UK government swooped in with game-changing alterations to permitted development rights, clearing the way for more homeowners and businesses to embrace solar power without the headache of prolonged planning procedures. Say goodbye to the dreaded wait times averaging over 8 weeks and the looming spectre of unexpected expenses.  

The biggest change was that flat-roofed homes are now able to install panels without planning consent, easing the process and cost for homeowners, and aligning with the privileges previously reserved for businesses. These relaxed rules apply to Conservation Areas also. 

Meanwhile, for businesses eyeing industrial rooftop solar, rejoice! The shackles of the 1MW restriction have been cast aside, liberating ambitious ventures from the planning approval grind. With these groundbreaking adjustments, we are not just inching but leaping towards our target of 70GW of solar power by 2035. Better yet, this leap champions British jobs, invigorates our renewables sector, and promises lighter bills for consumers embracing the solar panel wave. Let’s power up for a brighter, greener future together! 

How Can I Check If My Solar Installation Is Permitted Development?

Permitted development rights for solar panels are outlined within Part 14 (Renewable Energy) of The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015. 

Leaseholders please note: Even as a leaseholder, you might still be required to obtain consent from your landlord, freeholder, or management company. 

The order outlines that the following criteria must be met for permitted development rights to apply:

  • Keep it low and sleek: When installing solar panels, make sure they’re snug within the roof’s silhouette, not poking out more than 0.2 metres from the roof slope or wall surface. On flat roofs, they should blend seamlessly with the roof’s surface and again, not poke out further than 0.2 metres from the roof plane. 
  • Conservation charm: If you are nestled in a conservation area, avoid giving the streetscape a face-lift with panels on walls facing highways (includes roads, paths, and public rights of way). Let the historical charm breathe! 
  • Preservation priority: Give listed buildings and their green spaces a break; they are completely off-limits for solar panel installations both on the listed building itself or on a building that is within the garden or grounds of a listed property. It is important to keep the properties heritage intact. 
  • A welcome sight: Place your solar equipment strategically to keep the building’s curb appeal intact and the neighbourhood happy (see the checklist below). The goal is not to disrupt the visual harmony. 
  • In with the new, out with the old: When solar panels retire, bid them adieu promptly. Keeping things tidy is the neighbourly thing to do. 


Remember, if your solar plans do not play by these rules, you will need to knock on the planning permission door. 

And, if your building is a listed gem, planning permission and listed building consent are must. 

We always recommend discussing your plans with the Local Planning Authority for your area to check all whether all of the limits and conditions of permitted development will be met before you progress you project further.  

Checklist For Preserving The External Charm Of Solar Panels

When you and your solar contractor are looking for the perfect spot for your panels, you will not just be thinking about chasing the sun, but you will also be keeping an eye on how they will blend in with your home. Sure, you want those panels soaking up all that valuable sunshine, but you do not want them sticking out like a sore thumb either. 

The best position for your panels in terms of energy efficiency, may not always be the best position to minimise the effect on the external appearance of your property and the amenity of the area.  

Of suitable locations identified, the visual impact of panels will be most noticeable when they are positioned on roof slopes that everyone can see. Therefore, it is a balancing act between finding a spot where they will be the least conspicuous but still optimising efficiency. It is accepted that occasionally, circumstances dictate that only one viable rooftop location is both feasible and practical. 

The following checklist serves as a guide to assess whether the placement of solar panels effectively minimises their visual impact to the greatest extent possible:

1 Sunshine sweet spot:

  • Ensure the chosen location maximises sunlight exposure for optimal efficiency.
  • Provide evidence and explanation from the provider about the impact on efficiency if an alternative, less visible location is chosen.

2 Visual harmony tactics:

  • Panels evenly spaced on the roof slope, avoiding irregular patterns.
  • Maintain even distances from roof margins (ridge, eaves, party walls) and/or wall margins.
  • Position panels behind parapets or roof features like chimneys to minimise visibility, ensuring they do not cause shading issues.
  • Conceal cabling to minimise visibility, selecting colours that blend with the building exterior.

3 Collaboration with contractor:

  • Discuss the above points with your contractor to ensure the visual impact of the installation is minimised.

With this checklist in hand, you can ensure your solar panel installation not only maximises efficiency but also seamlessly integrates with the aesthetics of your property. 

How Do I Apply For Solar Panel Planning Permission?

If you need to do so, you can apply for planning permission for your solar panel installation, you will need to submit an application to your local planning authority. This is typically done online through the Planning Portal website. Be prepared to provide detailed information about your proposed plans, including its size, location, and any potential impacts on the surrounding area.

Here are some step-by-step instructions to follow to help you submit your application and obtain planning permission for your solar panels: 

  1. Check if you need permission: Start by figuring out if you need planning permission for your solar setup. Usually, you are good to go without it, but if your place is listed, in a conservation area, or a flat, you might need the thumbs-up. Details on how to check if your project is considered permitted development is outline earlier in this article, or you can contact your local planning authority and confirm your situation with them directly. 
  2. Get your info together: If you do need permission, gather all the documents and information about where you will put those panels, how big they will be, and any impact they might have on your surroundings. You might need to whip up some plans and drawings too – a professional solar contract will be help you with this. 
  3. Send in your application: Once you’ve got all your ducks in a row, you can submit your application to the local planning officer. You can usually do this online but be ready to cough up a fee. 
  4. Sit tight: Now comes the waiting game. The planning authority will review your application and decide if you’re good to go. This could take a while, depending on how busy they are and how complicated your application is. In our experience this usually takes between 8 and 12 weeks (sometimes longer). 
  5. Install away (if approved): If they give you the green light, it’s full steam ahead with your solar panel installation. Just make sure you stick to the rules they set out in your permission, or you could find yourself in hot water. 

If your application gets the thumbs-down, do not panic—you can appeal the decision. Just make sure you’ve got good reasons, like if the decision goes against the local planning rules, or if they state conditions that are vague, unreasonable, irrelevant, and generally just don’t make sense. 

Top Blunders to Avoid When Applying for Solar Panel Planning Permission

Navigating the planning labyrinth can trip up even the savviest solar enthusiasts. Here’s where people often stumble: 

  • Skimping on the details: Forget to dot your i’s and cross your t’s? Missing vital info could send your application straight to the rejection pile. 
  • Neighbourly neglect: Ever heard the phrase ‘good fences make good neighbours’? Well, honest communication makes for smooth solar sailing. Skipping a chat with your neighbours could lead to some unnecessary dispute further down the line. 
  • Ignoring the dark side: It’s easy to get starry-eyed about solar benefits, but don’t turn a blind eye to potential downsides. Failing to address the not-so-sunny impacts of your setup could leave your application in the reject pile. 

Choosing a Qualified Solar Panel Installer

To ensure a safe and compliant solar panel installation, it’s highly recommended to enlist the services of a reputable company. Look for those accredited by respected organisations like the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS). 

Opting for an MCS accredited installer guarantees that they possess the expertise, experience, and credentials needed to conduct your solar panel installation with precision and safety. 

Do your homework! Take the time to research potential companies and check out reviews from past clients. This extra step ensures you’re selecting a trustworthy and dependable team for your solar experience. 

Rest assured, at Tarven Solar Energy, all our installers are:

If you choose our MCS accredited team for your solar installation, we will happily manage the entire planning application process for you (if required). Be sure to read our grants and incentives information too, to see if you qualify to make things even easier for you to achieve your solar dream. 

We work together with our clients every step of the way to ensure their bespoke solar installation projects works both for them as the homeowner, their community, and the planning officers. So, if you are ready to start your solar project, request an online quote, or contact us directly for an obligation-free chat. 020 3937 5589. 

Choose us for high-quality solar panel installation or electrical services. Getting started is as simple as contacting us on 020 8087 0216 or sending an email to enquiries@tarvenlimited.co.uk.