1. Introduction

In many cases installing solar panels on non-domestic land is likely to be considered 'permitted development' with no need to apply to the council for planning permission. There are, however, important limits and conditions which must be met to benefit from the permitted development rights (see below).

  • 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 project no more than 200mm from the roof or wall surface.
  • If installed on a flat roof, the panels should not protrude more than 1 metre above the plane of the roof.
  • They should be sited no closer than 1 metre from the  external edge of the roof.
  • If installed on a wall, they should be sited no closer than 1 metre from a junction of that wall with another wall or with the roof of the building.
  • If the 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 the property is a listed building, planning permission and an application for listed building consent will be required. Planning permission will also be required if the site is on a site designated as a scheduled monument.

Non-domestic land for the purposes of these permitted development rights is broad and can include businesses and community buildings. Permitted development rights are also available for domestic properties, details can be found here.

You may wish to discuss with the local planning authority for your area whether all of the limits and conditions will be met.

Removal of permitted development rights

You need to be aware of whether the permitted development rights have been removed from the 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.