North Yorkshire is blessed with National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a multitude of designated conservation areas. Hambleton District Council, for example, has a total of 53 Conservation areas including Stokesley, Bedale, Northallerton, Thirsk and Easingwold. Planning permission plays a vital role in ensuring the character of buildings in these areas are preserved. Whilst it is undoubtedly important to preserve the facades of ‘period’ buildings, you may be interested to learn that the installation of solar panels in conservation areas does not necessarily require planning permission.
In December 2011 the government made changes to the planning regulations1, which made the installation of solar panels ?permitted development? within Conservation Areas, subject to a number of conditions;
a) solar PV or solar thermal equipment shall, so far as practicable, be sited so as to minimise its effect on the external appearance of the building;
b) solar PV or solar thermal equipment shall, so far as practicable, be sited so as to minimise its effect on the amenity of the area; and
c) solar PV or solar thermal equipment no longer needed for microgeneration shall be removed as soon as reasonably practicable.
In addition to these general requirements, the installation would not be permitted development if;
a) the solar PV or solar thermal equipment would protrude more than 200 millimetres beyond the plane of the wall or the roof slope when measured from the perpendicular with the external surface of the wall or roof slope;
b) it would result in the highest part of the solar PV or solar thermal equipment being higher than the highest part of the roof (excluding any chimney);
c) in the case of land within a conservation area or which is a World Heritage Site, the solar PV or solar thermal equipment would be installed on a wall which fronts a highway (please note that no reference is made to roof here);
d) the solar PV or solar thermal equipment would be installed on a site designated as a scheduled monument; or
e) the solar PV or solar thermal equipment would be installed on a building within the curtilage of the dwellinghouse or block of flats if the dwellinghouse or block of flats is a listed building.
Planning permission is required if either these conditions cannot be met or the local authority specifically restricts ‘permitted development rights’ for an area under terms of Article 4 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995. For example, currently Hambleton District Council has made four such Article 4 Directions in respect of solar installations, covering the areas of Stokesley, East Thirsk, Thirsk & Sowerby and Sowerby respectively.
EnergyMyWay recommends that householders who live in conservation areas always consult their local planning authority to determine whether formal planning permission is required prior to proceeding with a Solar PV or Solar Thermal installation.
1. The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Amendment) (England) Order 2011