Listed Building Solar Panels: Can Solar Panels Be Installed On Listed Buildings In The UK?

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Jack Ayre

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With the climate crisis worsening, clean energy is the way of the future. That’s why many people spend a lot of time and money researching and investing in renewable power sources. Installing solar panels could be the answer for many homeowners in the UK.

Many homeowners choose to install solar panels on their houses as it is an easy way to save on utility bills and reduce your carbon footprint. Plus, if you generate more energy than you use, you can sell it back to the grid. Because of these benefits, more people are considering retrofitting their homes with solar panels. 

Yet, based on the historical significance of the property, this may not be possible. Solar panel installations may not be suitable to a listed property or historic buildings. At this point, you may be wondering, can solar panels be installed on listed buildings in the UK at all? Well, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about listed buildings and solar panels below. 

Can You Install Solar Panels on Listed Buildings in the UK?

Most people have total freedom to install solar panels on their homes because it’s considered permitted development. Yet, it’s a different story when we talk about listed buildings. 

The UK has a long and colourful history that spans many centuries. Because of that, there are countless listed properties all over the country. 

Listed properties are buildings that feature historically significant architecture. To ensure these structures don’t fade away, the UK has put a few rules and regulations in place. The laws detail how to maintain the properties to preserve the architecture. Sadly, that means people who live in listed homes don’t have control over the exterior. 

This can make putting solar PV panels in place tricky, but not impossible. To install the devices, you’ll need to apply for Listed Building Consent (LBC) from your local council offices. 

While this may seem intimidating, the process is much simpler than it sounds and receiving individual listed building consent isn’t impossible so long as there is good reason for the work (such as a desire to rely more on solar power and reduce carbon emissions by switching to a solar system to power your property). Once you get the LBC, you should ask for special planning permission for any construction work that may be requires to install solar panels on a listed building. 

What Are the LBC Requirements for Solar Panels?

When applying for LBC, you have to meet a few conditions. For starters, the local council will ask you about the current state of your property. 

They’ll ensure that you’ve adhered to all the proper maintenance procedures. 

Other than that, the council will take the placement of the solar panels into account. You have to be able to demonstrate that the devices won’t cause any structural damage. Plus, the panels shouldn’t significantly alter the exterior appearance of the property. 

You should also think about the reversibility of the process. You need to be able to undo any construction on the listed building. To qualify for the LBC, you have to show the council that none of the changes you’re making are permanent. 

It’s also worth remembering that solar panels don’t come on their own. They need an extensive electrical system and a meter to function properly. So you’ll also need to consider where these elements will go. Ideally, they should be out of sight, somewhere in the corner of the building. 

Depending on the specifications of the property, this may not be easy to do. Because of that, you’ll need to hire local installers who specialise in working in conservation areas with listed buildings. They’ll be able to decide where the electrical boxes go while keeping aesthetics in mind. 

How to Apply for LBC to Install Solar Panels?

Now that you know what Listed Building Consent is, we can move on to how to apply for it. 

First up, you’ll need to find a suitable location for the solar panels. Start by canvassing your property and looking for any space that’s out of the way. 

That may include:

  • Gardens
  • Outbuildings
  • Roofs

 

Typically, the roof is the best choice because it won’t affect the appearance of your home. Plus, the solar panels will be in direct sunlight for most of the day. But this isn’t always an option. That’s because some listed buildings have tops made of traditional roof materials like thatch roofs or fragile slate roofs. Thatched roofing is rarely strong enough to hold an entire solar PV system, and fragile slate roofing will need protecting.

So, if you’re not sure where to place the devices, you can always contact us at ESE Solar. We’ll connect you to a professional that can help you with placement. 

Once that’s done, you’ll need to make contact with your local council and ask for all the relevant paperwork and forms.

If you’d rather fill in the applications online, you can visit the planning permissions website

Frequently Asked Questions

What Do You Need to Install Solar Panels on Listed Buildings in the UK?

To alter the state of a listed building, you need to apply for Listed Building Consent. This is a document that’ll give you authorisation to make changes to the property. 

You may also require special planning permissions in certain areas too, so it’s worth checking with local councils directly to ensure you’re operating with the correct permissions.  

How Long Will It Take To Get Listed Building Consent?

The exact duration will depend on your local council. However, the process typically takes anywhere between six and eight weeks. 

Solar Panels Listed Building Conclusions

Can solar panels be installed on listed buildings in the UK? The simple answer to this question is yes, but you need a couple of permissions.

To add solar panels to a listed building, you have to apply for Listed Building Consent (LBC). Once you get that, you should ask for any additional planning permissions as required. 

To qualify, you need to ensure that the solar panels won’t alter the structure of your property and the installation must be reversible.

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Born in North West England, Jack kicked off his career in the insurance arena, dealing with claims for three years. Always up for a challenge, Jack leapt out of his comfort zone and embarked upon 5 years of excitement with the military.

Working for the Ministry of Defence, Jack specialised in counter-terrorism which took him to places such as Dubai, Oman, Iraq, Norway and Bahrain. During this period he worked with various Governments implementing strategic operations to prevent terrorism.

After travelling around various countries Jack increasingly came across various forms of solar from large solar farms to domestic solar panels. From here Jack took a keen interest in all things solar and started reading about the technological capabilities with a view to entering the industry after his career in the Ministry of Defence.

Once home after 5 fruitful years, Jack had 3 months leave in which he immersed himself in a solar crash course and got applying for jobs within the solar sector. He came across ESE Solar, a long-established forward-thinking company whose head office was only a stone’s throw away from him. He picked up the phone to see if there were any vacancies and within a week had a successful interview and obtained a full-time job, starting in the technical team.

Within the first few months, Jack onboarded in various online courses during work and social hours to speed up his knowledge of all things solar. Due to his strong work ethic and thirst for knowledge Jack was promoted to Head of Technical at ESE Solar. He currently leads the team and oversees the product development of new technologies within the company alongside assisting where necessary on their maintenance department.

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