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Retrofit measures and planning permission - guidance for householders

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

Solar panels

Solar panels use energy from the sun to produce water heating, in the case of solar thermal, and electricity, solar photovoltaic (PV). An alternative to conventional solar PV panels are solar roof tiles, which are designed to look similar to normal slate roofing tiles.

In many cases, solar panels are permitted development, meaning you do not need planning permission if you meet certain conditions. Read the advice below to understand whether or not permission is required.

Where a solar panel is mounted on a house or a block of flats

You only need to apply for householder (if you live in a single house) or full planning permission (if you live in a flat) when the following apply:

  • if any part of the panels would protrude more than 20 centimetres from the external surface of the wall or a pitched roof slope
  • if any part of the panel would protrude more than 60cm from a flat roof
  • if the highest part of the solar panel or equipment will be higher than the highest part of the roof. This excludes any chimney
  • if it would be installed on a wall in a conservation area which faces a highway, including roads, paths and public rights of way
  • if your house or flat is or within the garden or grounds (curtilage) of a listed building

If your house or flat is a listed building, you must also apply for listed building consent.

For a stand-alone solar panel on domestic premises, not fixed to a building

You need only apply for planning permission when any of the following apply:

  • more than one stand-alone solar panel would be installed
  • it would exceed 4 metres in height
  • it would be located 5 metres within the boundary of the property
  • it would be installed within the curtilage of a listed building, curtilage refers to the garden or grounds
  • it would be located in a conservation area, and any part of the solar installation would exceed 2m in height and be closer to a highway than any part of the property, this includes roads, patch and public rights of way
  • the surface area of any stand-alone solar panel will exceed 9 square metres or 3m wide by 3m deep

Remember that even if you do not need planning permission, for work to be permitted development you also need to comply with the following conditions:

  • Solar PV or solar thermal equipment must so far as practicable, be sited so as to minimise its effect on the external appearance of the building and on the amenity of the area.
  • Solar PV or solar thermal equipment must be removed as soon as reasonably practicable when it is no longer needed.
  • For solar panels on a flat roof in a conservation area, you must still apply for prior approval.
  • For stand-alone solar panels on the grounds of a building in a conservation area and nearer to the highway than the building, you must also still apply for prior approval.


Your solar panels should be sited, so far as is practicable, to minimise the effect on the external appearance of the building and amenity of the area, for example away from front roof slopes, where possible. You can find practical advice and design guidance in our retrofit how to guide on solar panels.

If you would like to install solar panels you may be interested in joining the Solar Together scheme.

Published: 28 February 2022

Last updated: 10 June 2024