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Retrofit measures and planning permission - guidance for householders

Get advice on whether planning permission is required for common retrofit measures.

Heat pumps

Air source heat pumps take warmth from the air and use an evaporator coil to supply heating or hot water to a building. Ground source heat pumps consist of pipes underneath the ground which extract warmth to supply heating or hot water to a building. This requires a certain amount of space externally.

Heat pumps are permitted development and don't need planning permission where they meet certain criteria, summarised below.

Air source heat pumps 

You only need to apply for planning permission if the following apply:

  • the volume of an air source heat pump unit (including housing) exceeds 0.6 cubic metres
  • there is an existing air source heat pump on a building or within the gardens or grounds
  • it is within 1m of the property boundary
  • it is on a pitched roof or less than 1m from the edge of a flat roof
  • on a wall which fronts a highway, and any part of that wall is above the level of the ground storey
  • in a conservation area, it would be on a wall or roof which fronts a highway, or be nearer to any highway which adjoins the property than any part of the building
  • your house or flat is a listed building, or within the garden or grounds of a listed building.

If you live in a listed building, you will need both planning permission and listed building consent.

As air source heat pumps can be noisy, even where they meet the criteria above and are permitted development, they must comply with Microgeneration Certification Scheme Planning Standards (MCS 020) standards. Where these can't be met, planning permission will be required and you should follow noise standards set out in the City Plan 2019-2040 and the Environmental Supplementary Planning Document. 

Find out more about heat pumps, when you need permission and how to apply in our retrofit how to guide on air source heat pumps. 

Ground source heat pumps 

Installation within the curtilage (the garden or grounds) of a house or block of flats does not require planning permission, but if the property is listed, listed building consent will be required.

Published: 27 April 2022

Last updated: 10 January 2023