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Do you need planning permission for solar panels in the UK?

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Providing your solar panels meet specific criteria around their size, height and placement, they most likely won’t require planning permission.

However, things can get complicated if you intend to install solar panels on a flat or apartment or if your building is listed (deemed to have specific architectural, historical or national significance).

To make it a little more straightforward, we’ll answer the question “Do I need planning permission for solar panels?” with advice for different property types and quick links to planning portals in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

We’ll also explain the recent changes to the law around solar panel planning permission in the UK, outline how they can benefit you and address your key queries about putting your application together. How do you apply for planning permission for solar panels? Which building regulations do you need to know about? And what should you do if your application fails?

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Planning permission for solar panels

In the UK, planning permission is often required when you want to make a major alteration to your home, change how a property you own is used or build something new.

The local planning authority (LPA) – typically the council of wherever you live or plan to build or renovate – provides planning permission to approve the work you wish to carry out.

Installing solar panels on your UK home can be a significant alteration or addition, so will you need planning permission? The answer is, most likely, no. If you’re installing solar panels for domestic purposes (rather than a commercial or industrial development) and your building isn’t listed – or in a conservation area or a World Heritage Site – chances are your solar panels won’t require planning permission.

We recommend always double-checking with your LPA first – especially if in doubt. Here’s how to find out if your solar panel installation will need planning permission:

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Rules for solar panels under permitted development

Permitted development rights enable you to extend or improve your home – for example, by installing solar panels – without needing planning permission.


To qualify as a permitted development under UK law – and, therefore, be exempt from planning permission – your solar panels must meet the following conditions:


  • They mustn’t be installed above your roof’s ridgeline and may not project more than 20cm above your roof (this excludes the chimney). For flat roofs, solar panels may project by up to 60cm. The previous 20cm requirement for them was relaxed in December 2023
  • They mustn’t be installed on a listed building – even where planning permission would otherwise not be required. Installing solar panels on listed buildings comes with different and more stringent rules, which you can explore in more detail below
  • If your property is in a World Heritage Site or conservation area, the panels mustn’t be visible from the road. Solar panels on these properties will almost certainly require planning permission
  • If your solar panels will be ground-mounted rather than placed on your property’s roof, they mustn’t exceed a 9 sq m area. They must also be no higher than 4m and at least 5m from any of your land’s boundaries. If they don’t meet these requirements, you’ll require planning permission from your LPA

Planning permission for listed houses

There are around 500,000 listed buildings in the UK. These properties are protected due to their enduring historical, national or architectural significance and have more stringent requirements when making additions or alterations to their appearance.

To install solar panels on a listed home, you must apply for a Listed Building Consent (LBC) from the LPA.

For your LBC application to succeed, you’ll generally have to demonstrate several things to your council, including the following:

  • The installation of your solar panels is reversible, and you’ll be able to remove them in the future without causing structural damage to the building
  • The solar panels won’t significantly alter or detract from the property’s aesthetic qualities. (You’ll also need to consider the positioning of the accompanying electrical system and meter and their impact on the listed building’s exterior appearance)
  • The listed building on which you’re attempting to install solar panels is in suitable structural condition to support the development

An LBC tends to take between six and eight weeks to come through. If you can prove to the council that you’re committed to adding and maintaining the solar panels to a high and compliant standard, you shouldn’t have too many issues obtaining it.

One key point, though – an LBC isn’t the same as planning permission. They’re two separate requirements, and once you have obtained the LBC to add solar panels to your listed building, you’ll still need to secure planning permission.

Planning permission for conservation areas

Designated by local councils, conservation areas are protected for their cultural, architectural, environmental or historical significance.

If the home you intend to add solar panels to is in a conservation area, you’ll almost certainly need to obtain planning permission. You may even require a public consultation before you can add solar panels to your conservation area-located home, but this depends on how your local authority does things.

With listed buildings, you’ll need to prove to the council that the improvements won’t negatively impact any aspect of the conservation area’s aesthetic attributes. However, it’s not the building itself that matters but rather the overall look and feel of the area.

Therefore, the position and design of any solar array in a conservation area are crucial. Your panels must not be visible from the road, and you’ll need to demonstrate how you plan to incorporate them into your home’s existing architecture. You’ll need to adjust the scale and size of your setup to fit that of your home and select materials that complement the character of your property and the conservation area it’s located in.

Planning permission for flats and apartments

Gaining planning permission for solar panels on flats and apartments is possible, and whether you’ll require permission is based on the same factors as for houses. 

However, planning permission for flats and apartments comes with a bit more administrative red tape.

First, flats usually require a different type of planning permission, such as the following:

  • To add solar panels to a flat or apartment (or a non-residential site, such as a shop), you’ll need full planning permission
  • To add solar panels to a single-dwelling home, you’ll need householder planning permission

Second, you must own the flat or apartment in question. If you’re a tenant, you’ll need to request permission for the solar panel installation from your landlord and make a convincing case regarding the domestic solar array’s environmental, financial and reputational benefits.

Third, it’s not only planning permission you’ll need to install solar panels on a flat or apartment – it’s consent from the owners of the other apartments in the building as well. Unless you own a whole block of flats (which makes things easier), you’ll typically have to seek approval from your building management board or owners’ corporation before you go to your LPA.

Even the best solar panels can adversely affect a building’s aesthetic appeal, which can complicate matters, especially on buildings such as blocks of flats, which are designed to be uniform. There’s also the issue of roof space to consider because, on most apartment buildings, the roof – arguably the best place to mount solar panels – isn’t owned by any single flat. Instead, you’ll have to get creative in your solar panel placement and look at mounting them on balconies and windows instead.

Since obtaining planning permission for a flat or apartment tends to be more difficult than it is for a traditional detached or semi-detached home, we always recommend getting in touch with your local authority first to find out if you need planning permission. Trust us – it’ll save you time in the long run!

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Solar panels on flat roofs rule change

In December 2023, the UK government relaxed the rules around solar panels mounted on flat roofs.


Under the revised rules – put in place as an attempt by the UK government to slash some of the red tape surrounding green-home improvements – solar panels on flat roofs can now also project 60cm above your roof’s ridgeline, compared to the previous 20cm. The updated requirements are good news for businesses looking to go solar. Companies that can generate more than 1MW of electricity no longer need to seek planning permission.


We recommend proceeding with caution if you plan to install solar panels on a flat roof. Due to the different types of racking systems required, flat roof-mounted solar arrays can put more pressure on your roof, so it’s worth consulting with your architect and solar panel installer.

How do I apply for planning permission?

Ready to apply for planning permission to add a domestic solar array to your UK home?

Here’s a quick step-by-step guide to the process.

1. Check if your solar panels need planning permission

To be sure your solar panels need planning permission, ask yourself these questions:

  • Will the panels project more than 60cm (on a flat roof) or 20cm (on a slanted roof)?
  • Is my home listed or situated in a World Heritage Site or conservation area?
  • Will my solar panels be wall- or ground-mounted rather than roof-mounted?

You’ll probably require planning permission if you answered “yes” to any of the above. If so, it’s worth getting in touch with your local authority or scrolling back up this article – we’ve listed quick links to planning permission portals for wherever you live in the UK.

2. Prepare the necessary information

The success of your planning permission application for solar panels in the UK will depend on how effectively you communicate your proposal. You’ll have to convince the council that the benefits of your solar panels (the clean energy generation) aren’t outweighed by their drawbacks (the visual pollution), especially if your home is listed or in a conservation area.

You’ll need to assemble all the data the council requires, including information about your proposed panels’ potential impacts on their surroundings and details about your array’s size, location and placement on your home or in your garden. You should also be prepared to provide any drawings or plans of your proposed solar array and its racking system, so keeping the communication lines with your installer and architect open is essential.

3. Send in your application

You can submit your planning permission application to your local authority online by following the steps, providing the required information and paying the fee. If you’re unsure who your LPA is or how to access its website, you can find your local council here.

Now, it’s time to play the waiting game. Planning permission applications for solar panels can take from six to eight weeks to come through (and even longer if yours is particularly complex or your council is particularly busy), so sit tight.

If your planning permission is accepted, congratulations! You can get started with the installation. But what if it’s rejected?

What to do if planning permission is rejected

If your LPA rejects your application for planning permission, you have a few ways to push back.

The first is to appeal.

The UK government’s website – which features extensive information on the planning permission appeals process – states that you can appeal against a planning permission decision if your LPA:

  • Refuses your application
  • Conditionally grants your application but with conditions you don’t like
  • Refuses to remove or change these conditions
  • Fails to decide on your application within the agreed-upon deadline (typically eight weeks), providing you haven’t consented in writing to that date being changed
  • Serves you with an enforcement notice for breaking planning permission

You can appeal in writing (the most common method) through a public inquiry or via an informal hearing. Your appeal will need to highlight why you believe your planning permission should’ve been granted and emphasise the advantages of your home’s proposed solar array.

If your planning permission appeal is rejected, is it worth appealing?

According to the Planning Inspectorate’s most recent figures from October to December 2023, the answer is yes. Over one-quarter (27 per cent) of appeals against rejected planning permission applications were successful during that time.

For solar panel-related appeals specifically, this success rate may be even higher, with around half (44 per cent) of rejections to date having been overturned.

If your appeal is unsuccessful and you’re left feeling that your LPA hasn’t given you a fair go, you can appeal through the Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman (LGO). You should only go down this route if you feel your LPA has:

  • Provided false or misleading information
  • Failed to supply a proper reason for its decision
  • Neglected to take into account critical information or considered irrelevant information

You should only get the LGO involved after first writing to the head of your LPA, and even then, only if you receive an unsatisfactory or no response at all.

Check out the UK government’s official advice around appealing a planning permission application decision to learn more.

Building regulations and solar panels

Building regulations are a set of technical standards governing the construction and design of buildings in the UK. They’re there to make sure that buildings are safe, dry, warm and accessible for everyone and cover factors such as energy consumption and fire safety.

Will your proposed domestic solar array fall under building regulations? Yes, they will – regardless of whether your solar panels qualify for permitted development.

This means that you’ll need to prove your roof’s ability to carry the weight of the solar panels you intend to install and, if necessary, strengthen or alter it to get it ready. Building regulations mean you’ll also have to take into account the electrical side of solar panel installation to accommodate your array securely and adhere to all relevant health and safety measures.

The easiest way to do this is by hiring an installer certified under the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS). These suppliers are accredited to the highest standard for solar panel installation, and you can compare quotes from them. Take a minute to complete our free quote-finding form with some more information about your solar panel requirements, and you’ll be paired with the best MCS-certified installers for your needs.

It’s also worth exploring our comprehensive guides of the best national solar panel installers and regional solar panel installers for a supplier closer to home.

Planning permission for solar panels FAQs

Planning permission for solar panels in the UK typically takes six to eight weeks. However, it can take longer depending on your proposed solar array’s size and scale, as well as how busy your LPA is with similar applications. If your LPA can’t get to your application within the average period, it may be extended to 13 weeks.

If your LPA hasn’t gotten back to you with a decision in the agreed timeframe and you haven’t agreed to a longer deadline in writing, you may be entitled to appeal.

While solar panels can reduce your home’s carbon footprint, they can also lower its aesthetic appeal.

This can cause friction between you and your neighbours, but if your solar panels don’t require planning permission and you install them in line with the prescribed parameters, these less-than-neighbourly objections won’t have any basis in law.

The exception is when you do need planning permission. If so, a public consultation may be involved, in which your neighbours will have the opportunity to air their concerns about your planned solar developments. In this case, your neighbours’ objections may have a critical bearing on whether your planning permission application is granted or rejected.

Best practice states that you should involve your neighbours from the start by sharing your solar intentions with them before you take your application to the council, especially if your proposed solar installation is sufficiently large or in enough of a prominent area to require planning permission.

No, existing UK regulations don’t specify a limit on the number of solar panels you can install on your property. You’re limited only by the amount of eligible space on your home’s roof, walls or garden and your budget. (For more on that, explore our guide to how much solar panels cost.) Larger domestic solar arrays (those with more panels) will come with more stringent planning permission requirements, so if your solar setup is big, then be prepared for the inevitable paperwork that comes with it.

No, it isn’t illegal to install your own solar panels in the UK – provided you have planning permission if required. However, installing your solar panels yourself isn’t advisable because you may miss out on one of the best perks of your solar array – the ability to sell any excess renewable electricity you generate back to the grid.

This option, made possible through the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG), is one of the key ways solar panels have paid back the cost of their outlay over the years. But if you install solar panels yourself, you won’t be eligible for it. That’s because the SEG, along with most other solar panel grants you may be able to access, is only available when an MCS-certified installer puts your solar panels in place.

For this reason – as well as the high-quality competence, professionalism, safety and performance standards this accreditation offers – we recommend opting for an MCS-certified supplier. To browse quotes from UK-based ones, enter information about your home’s solar needs into our quick quote-finding form. We’ll use your requirements to pair you with providers suited to your home’s needs and get you the best possible deal.

Rob Binns


Rob is an experienced writer and editor, with a wide range of experience in many topics, including renewable energy and appliances, home security, and business software. He has written for Eco Experts, Home Business, Expert Market, Payments Journal, and Yahoo! Finance. . 

Rob has a passion for smart home technology, online privacy, as well as the environment and renewables, which leads him to the Independent Advisor where he writes about related topics, including cyber security, VPNs, and solar power.