Permitted development

You can perform certain types of work to your property without needing to apply for planning permission. These are your "permitted development rights" which are set out in Schedule 2, Part 14 (Renewable energy) of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 2015 (as amended) (GPDO 2015). These permitted development rights allow the installation of solar panels, subject to meeting the requirements outlined in these pages.

If you cannot meet the requirements, you will need to obtain planning permission for the works.

The rights and conditions that apply will depend on whether your property is in a conservation area, if it is a Listed Building, or if the permitted development rights have been removed by an “Article 4 direction”.

Solar panels and building regulations

If you want to install solar panels on the roof of your building, Building Regulations permission will apply.

Adding panels to an existing roof needs careful consideration. Your roof must be able to support the weight of the panels and should be tied down to prevent them from lifting up.

A Structural Engineer will need to check the roof for its strength. Some strengthening work may be needed.

Building regulations also apply to other aspects of the work such as electrical installation. All electrical work should be undertaken by a Part P registered Electrician.  

You don't need to make a building regulations application if you use an installer from an approved Competent Persons Scheme (CPS) for microgeneration technology. These include:

  • NAPIT
  • ELECSA
  • NICEIC.  

Not all CPS installers are certified to carry out a structural assessment of roof structures. They are only able to deal with the electrical aspects of installation. It may be necessary for a Building Regulation application to be made for the structural assessment. You should check that your installer is a member of a scheme covering all the work they will be doing.

What you need to know about your property

It is important to understand the planning constraints of your property and the area where you live, before you install solar panels.

You will need to find out if your property:

 

Planning permission

Based on the planning constraints that you have identified above, this will determine whether or not you will need to submit a planning application and/or listed building consent application to install solar panels on your property.

Designation Planning permission required? Permitted development constraints

Not in a Conservation Area, Article 4 Area or a Listed Building

No – permitted development rights apply

Installation permitted unless:

  • PV Panels would project more than 200mm from the roof slope or wall surface, when measured perpendicular with the external surface of the roof slope or wall.
  • PV Panels would project beyond the highest part of the roof (excluding the chimney).
  • PV panels would be installed on a building that is within the grounds of a listed building or on a site designated as a scheduled monument.

The following conditions must be considered:

  • Equipment on a building should be sited, so far as is practicable, to minimise the effect on the external appearance of the building and the amenity of the area.

When no longer needed, equipment should be removed as soon as reasonably practicable.

Conservation Area

No – permitted development rights apply

All of the above conditions apply, with one additional requirement. Installation not permitted if:

  • The panels would be fitted to a wall which fronts a highway.
Conservation Area and Article 4 Maybe - planning application required in the 4 areas identified

Installation not permitted for buildings in Conservation Areas (CA) covered by Article 4 directions which removes permitted development rights for solar panels. This applies in:

  • Ovingdean
  • Patcham
  • Portslade Old Village
  • Rottingdean
  • Stanmer

If not located in any of the areas above, permitted development rights apply.

Listed Building

Yes – Listed Building Consent is also required.

Send an email to conservation@brighton-hove.gov.uk to get more help and information on how to apply for planning permission and listed building consent. 

However, due to the specialist and protected nature of listed buildings, we would recommend that you appoint a suitably qualified architect or building surveyor with heritage experience to advise and assist you with any application.

Minimising the effect on the external appearance of the building and the amenity of the area

The Contractor will complete a survey of your property and identify suitable locations to position the panels. The most adequate location will take into account where the panels will be exposed to the greatest amount of sunlight throughout the day to maximise the electricity produced.

Of the suitable locations identified, the visual impact of the panels will be most significant when positioned on roof slopes visible from public views. Where possible, panels should be positioned in an area where they are the least visible, however this may not be reasonably practicable if there is only one suitable roof location.

Further to roof space selection, there are a number of ways the visual impact of panels can be reduced:

  • Ensure panels are spaced evenly on the roof slope and not in an irregular pattern.
  • Ensure the position of the panels would retain even distances to the roof margins (ridge, eaves, party walls) and/or walls margins;
  • Place panels behind parapets or roof features where possible (such as chimneys), and where these features do not cause shading issues.
  • Run cabling in a position to minimise visibility from the street and adjacent properties.
  • Use cabling and cable ducts which are in keeping with the colour of the building exterior (such as black for brick building, white for white rendered building).

These measures and panel placing should be discussed with the Contractor to minimise visual impact of the installation, as required for works to be considered permitted development condition.

If you are unsure whether the proposed installation is considered permitted development, or you want to be certain that your installation is lawful, you can apply for a Lawful Development Certificate.

Lawful Development Certificates

A Lawful Development Certificate (LDC) is a document issued by the Council Planning Department to confirm that your proposed development complies with permitted development limitations and conditions, and therefore planning permission is not required. You can find more information of what a LDC entails and what you are required to submit on the Planning Portal.

You can apply for an LDC using the Planning Portal's secure online application service. You will have to pay a fee.

Getting a Lawful Development Certificate is worth considering even if you are sure your project is permitted development. If you later want to sell your property, an LDC may be helpful to answer queries raised by potential buyers or their legal representatives.

The Solar Together process

Once you accept your offer, a surveyor will visit your property to assess whether your roof is suitable for a solar installation and confirm the number of panels, their location and other details such as cabling locations and colour.

The Contractor will provide a basic panel design for the roof and descriptions of the installation, including a basic drawing of the proposed layout, which can be used to apply for a lawful development certificate, planning permission or listed building consent. An existing plan and section with the roof will also be required, in order to have a valid certificate application.

If required, you can search for a registered architect, town planner or building surveyor through the planning portal or the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.