Roof and wall-mounted solar panels
In many cases fixing solar panels to the roof of a single dwelling house is likely to be considered 'permitted development' under planning law with no need to apply for planning permission.
There are, however, important exceptions and provisos which must be observed.
These permitted development rights apply to houses. If you live in a flat and are considering fitting solar panels you are advised to contact your LPA for guidance.
Roof and wall mounted solar panels are subject to the following conditions:
- Panels on a building should be sited, so far as is practicable, to minimise the effect on the appearance of the building.
- They should be sited, so far as is practicable, to minimise the effect on the amenity of the area.
- When no longer needed for microgeneration they should be removed as soon as possible.
- They should not be installed above the ridgeline and should project no more than 200mm from the roof or wall surface.
- If your property is a listed building installation will require planning permission and is likely to require an application for listed building consent.
- If your property is in a conservation area, or in a World Heritage Site planning consent is required when panels are to be fitted on the principal or side elevation walls and they are visible from the highway. If panels are to be fitted to a building in your garden or grounds they should not be visible from the highway.
If being installed on a flat roof, solar panels are subject to the following conditions:
- panels cannot be sited within 1 metre of the external edge of the roof; or
- panels cannot protrude more than 1 metre above the plane of the roof.
Standalone solar panels
Standalone solar panels are permitted development, provided that they comply with the following conditions:
- the panel should be sited, so far as is practicable, to minimise the effect on the amenity of the area
- only one standalone solar panel is permitted
- no part of the installation must exceed 4 metres in height
- if the panel is within 5 metres of the boundary of the property, it cannot be more than 2 metres in height
- the panel shall not be within 5 metres of the highway
- no dimension of the panel should be greater than 3 metres
- the panel surface shall not be more than 9 square metres
- when no longer needed for microgeneration they should be removed as soon as possible.
Removal of permitted development rights
You need to be aware of whether the permitted development rights have been removed from your property by the Local Planning Authority. If they have been removed, you must submit a planning application for the work.
The Local Planning Authority may have removed some of your permitted development rights as a condition of the original planning permission for your property. This information will be available on the planning register held by the Local Planning Authority. Permitted development rights may also have been removed by an 'Article 4' direction. These are most common in conservation areas where the character of an area could be threatened by unmanaged development. Your solicitor should have informed you of whether an article 4 direction exists when you purchased your property, but you can check with the Local Planning Authority if you are not sure.
The Welsh Government has produced a technical guide, and a householder guide, available here, to help you understand how permitted development rules might apply to your circumstances.