Solar Hot Water Panels in Conservation Areas

If you live in a conservation area or own a listed property it can be difficult to install solar hot water panels. There are extra restrictions in place designed to preserve the natural beauty and condition of these areas. However, these restrictions may not be as limiting as they first appear. Local authorities are often sympathetic to homeowners adding renewable energy generation.

Conservation areas

Conservation areas are areas of natural, historic or architectural interest protected by law. These can include country houses in historic areas, 18th- and 19th-century suburbs, historic town and city centres and fishing or mining villages. In these areas, a variety of restrictions apply to prevent tree felling, alterations to buildings, and the removal of original historic features.

Can I install solar hot water panels in conservation areas?

Installing solar hot water panels in conservation areas is definitely possible. Solar hot water systems are popular in remote or countryside locations as they offer reliable clean energy.

You can have solar hot water panels in conservation areas under permitted development rights. However, you have to follow extra requirements:

  • For building mounted panels, they cannot be fitted to a wall which faces a highway.
  • Standalone panels cannot be located nearer to a highway bounding the property than any other part of the building.

Overall, these apply on top of the other permitted development requirements. See the full list in our information on planning permission and solar hot water panels.

Getting planning

Conservation areas have extra requirements so it’s always best that you check with your local authority. If you think your installation has permitted development rights, you can submit a Permitted Development Enquiry to get a planning officer’s opinion on your solar hot water panels. If you think you need planning permission, you will have to submit a planning application to your local authority.

Listed buildings

To install solar hot water panels on a listed building, you will need a listed buildings notice. You may also need planning permission. You may also have to have additional surveys done to check the insulation of the property and that it is structurally capable of supporting any extra weight.

When planning to install solar hot water panels in conservation areas and listed buildings, it’s critical to involve your local authority as much as possible as the requirements can be difficult to manage. Ask them for advice on your solar hot water panel installation and whether it needs planning permission. Also, their website may have information about the restrictions in your local area. You can find your local authority using this tool.