Making your home more environmentally friendly
We are working in partnership with Swindon Borough Council and independent experts iChoosr to give homeowners the opportunity to invest in renewables through a group-buying scheme for solar panels and battery storage with Solar Together Wiltshire (solartogether.co.uk).
This group-buying scheme offers solar panels with optional battery storage and EV charge points, as well as offering battery storage for residents who have already invested in solar panels and are looking to get more from the renewable energy they generate, as well as increase their independence from the grid.
Solar panels, planning permission and other consents
As part of our commitment to tackling the Climate Emergency, planning policy encourages the use of sustainable options for powering your home, wherever possible and appropriate. One common way to make use of renewable energy is to install solar panels on your property, fixed to a wall or rooftop, or in a ground-mounted, standalone installation.
Use this page to check if you will need to make an application for planning permission or other consents for different types and locations of solar installation, and to understand the principles we will follow when assessing applications. Select a topic below to read more.
Circumstances where you might need planning permission
The regulations which apply, known as The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (as amended) (the "GPDO") depend on where you are proposing to locate your solar panel installation.
"Curtilage" is the land which forms part and parcel with the house. Usually it is the area of land within which the house sits or to which it is attached such as the garden. Although for some houses, especially in the case of properties with large grounds, it may be a much smaller area.
The above would only apply if permitted development rights have not been removed via a planning condition or Article 4 Direction. You can clarify whether permitted development rights have been removed from a property by requesting a free permitted development rights check by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org requesting a 'Permitted development rights check' and giving your full address.
A permitted development rights check will not answer your specific question whether planning permission is required (or not) for your proposed installation and you must therefore check the GPDO 'Schedule 2, PART 14 Renewable energy' and points mentioned above to verify compliance with planning regulations.
The link below will take you to the GPDO 'Schedule 2, PART 14 Renewable energy' which outlines in full the criteria that would need to be met for different forms of renewable energy installations, including solar panels. This link includes the current regulations, however it is worthwhile to note that the regulations are frequently changing.
If you are unsure whether planning permission is required or of the required procedure you may alternatively apply for an informal decision from one of our officers. This can be done by completing the form "Do I Need Planning Permission" mentioned below.
Circumstances where you would need listed building consent
Solar panels on listed buildings or located within the curtilage of a listed building will nearly always require listed building consent. Those on buildings within their curtilages require usually require planning permission as this would not be considered permitted development under the GPDO.
Different legislation applies for planning permissions and listed building consent and so these have different statutory tests. Do not assume that if you have gained one permission, you will automatically also gain the other.
Improving the energy efficiency of an older building can be done sympathetically and without compromising its historic character. Historic England also provide guidance as to how to go about it, including downloadable practical guidance on draught-proofing, insulation and ways of generating your own energy.
Should you require written confirmation as to whether planning permission or listed building consent would be required then you can use our "Do I Need Planning Permission?" service. You will need to complete and return the form "Do I Need Planning Permission?", which may be found at: planning advice.
This type of enquiry will attract a fee the cost of which can be found on our Current pre-application advice charges pages. Your completed form may be submitted by post along with a cheque for the required fee, or alternatively by email, with payment over the phone by credit/debit card following our confirmed receipt of the completed form.
On receipt of your completed form and fee, we will check the planning history and whether permitted development rights have been removed from the property or whether the proposal meets the relevant planning legislation and other possible permissions/consents i.e. any listed building consent, Article 4 directions, conservation area restrictions, etc. We will provide you with a written response with the officer's informal decision as to whether planning permission is/is not required.
Protection of wildlife and biodiversity
As a planning authority, we have a statutory duty to conserve biodiversity, and to take into account protected species, such as nesting birds and roosting bats. These duties will be part of our consideration for any proposed works to roofs, when planning permission or listed building consent is required. However, where no application is necessary, it is the responsibility of the property owner to comply with the relevant legislation, and not to do so could be an offence.
We base our assessment of any planning application on both national and local planning policies. View guidance about construction and protected species.
Due to the various provisions of the The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (as amended) (the "GPDO"), not all solar panels will require permission. This may lead applicants to perceive that decision-making in this area is inconsistent. However, this is a result of national permitted development regulations, rather council policy.