The following guide produced by Suffolk’s Local Authorities to support homeowners in conservation areas wishing to install a roof-mounted solar PV system for electricity generation.
Placing solar panels on the roof of your house or flat, or a building within the grounds of your house or flat, is considered in most cases ‘Permitted Development’, whether this is in a conservation area or otherwise. This means that in general there is no need to seek planning permission from your Local Planning Authority (LPA) to proceed, subject to certain conditions. These conditions are that the solar panels:
In addition, solar panels cannot be installed:
If there is any doubt regarding compliance with a) to g) above, it is recommended that you apply to your LPA for pre-application planning advice or a lawful development certificate (LDC) before starting works.
Where conditions a) to g) above cannot be met, or where your LPA has issued an ‘Article 4’ direction covering the area in which your property is located*, an application for planning permission will be required.
*Article 4 directions are made when the character of an area of acknowledged importance would be threatened. They are most common in conservation areas. You will probably know if your property is affected by such a direction, but you can check with the LPA if you are not sure.
If you wish to install solar panels on your roof, building regulations will normally apply. The ability of the existing roof to carry the load (weight) of the panels will need to be checked and proven. Some strengthening work may be needed. Building regulations also apply to other aspects of the work such as electrical installation.
Installers who are members of a relevant competent person scheme can self-certify certain types of building work, including the installation of solar PV, avoiding the need to seek separate building regulations approval. You are advised to check your installer is a member of a scheme covering the work they will be undertaking.