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Discussion Starter #1
Like a lot of new EV owners I'm now interested in installing solar panels on my house roof so I've started looking into it.

The problem is that I live in a small village which is entirely within a conservation area and having briefly investigated this it seems that it's fraught with difficulties (red tape :().

I think I need to speak to the building control department but before I do that I wondered if anyone here has got any experience or advice about installing solar panels in a conservation area?

Thanks !
 

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You'll need to speak to your council's planning/development management team about your situation.

A lot depends on how each local planning authority interprets the legislation. Installing solar panels is permitted development, however, the council will be concerned about the possible harm to the appearance of the street scene. If your south-facing roof is not visible from the highway they don't have reasonable grounds for refusal.

In contacting them, ask to speak to a planning officer who covers your village (the phone will probably be answered by an administrator) and be friendly and interested in how they make their decision.

If they tell you that it's likely to be refused, it may be worth applying anyway and appealing the refusal. The Planning Inspectorate is taking a fairly pragmatic view on interpreting the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) whose 'golden thread' is sustainable development. You can the argue special circumstances of using solar PV to power your car, which is highly sustainable as well as reducing carbon emissions and contributing to improved air quality.

Building control's concern is that your installation is done by a competent person who signs off the job as compliant with building regs.
 
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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks Rob, that's really useful, especially the advice about special circumstances.

I might be lucky in that my South facing roof is on the opposite side to the road and the back of my house isn't too overlooked so might not be an issue with my neighbour (although I will ask).
 

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It is certainly worth speaking to them. My brother in law was unable to install panels on his new-build because people in the village above and the other side of the valley might see them.
That's why I suggest submitting an application that takes into account the officers' viewpoint. In your brother in law's case, if he had a refusal notice with that stated as the reason he could then submit a fresh proposal (using a different panel/solar tile) demonstrating how the neighbouring settlements would not notice them.
 

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Correct me if I am wrong, but I thought PV installation on a roof was permitted development, even within a conservation area.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I'm not saying it isn't permitted but it's certainly more complicated which is why I've started this thread to ask for advice.

From the application form I read last night it had a question near the top asking "Conservation area : Yes/No" if no go to end of form, if yes please fill in these zillion questions :eek:
 

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Correct me if I am wrong, but I thought PV installation on a roof was permitted development, even within a conservation area.
It is permitted development, however, the order qualifies the right by requirement the development to not be harmful to the amenity (i.e. look a mess). I have been told that there are nine cases where enforcement decisions have been upheld by the Planning Inspectorate because the installations were deemed to be an eyesore.

Every LPA sets its own criteria for conservation areas – the key one being nothing can be demolished without prior consent – which is why it's important that the OP seeks a view from his council's officers. You won't believe how much time people waste by arguing 'I know someone in X whose application in Green Belt/conservation area/AONB was approved so you can't refuse mine' – in planning law every case is decided on its individual merits according to national and local policy.
 

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That's interesting. In terms of looking a mess - assuming you get a professional installation, what does this mean? At the end of the day, the installations all look pretty similar.
 

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That's interesting. In terms of looking a mess - assuming you get a professional installation, what does this mean? At the end of the day, the installations all look pretty similar.
It's the subjective judgement of officers or, if it goes to committee, the members. The example below was subject to enforcement notice to remove all panels.
upload_2014-6-18_11-33-12.png
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That's interesting. In terms of looking a mess - assuming you get a professional installation, what does this mean? At the end of the day, the installations all look pretty similar.
Indeed. The reality would be that some subjective opinion would apply. What likely happened is some influential folk complained to the planning department and they overruled the permitted development.

Planning departments are very powerful in what they can decide for and against when it comes to conservation areas. If it means progress and change then great intakes of breath. Also neighbours who seem nice and friendly will turn on a sixpence.

Always seek planning department opinions and canvas the neighbours
 

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Judgements vary depending on the local authority. One of the episodes of 'The Planners' covered an application in Chester to install solar panels on a roof in full view of the walls – it was approved.

It's worth applying, and if refused, appealing to the planning inspectorate, on the ground that the contribution to sustainability from solar PV outweighs the harm to the amenity.
 

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If you have a Parish Council they will also be consultees so worth speaking to their planning committee first to see how environmentally aware they are, if they are not sympathetic then you might have a fight on your hands :eek:
 

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But remember that you are not alone. Ecotricity has just had a wind farm on the Somerset Levels rejected even after the planning department recommended it.

Just wire their drainage pumps up to the wind turbines then say "OK fellas - NOW what's the visual impact?"

That was a joke BTW for the people who are quick to take offence
 
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