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Do Commercial Properties Need Planning Permission for Solar Panels in the UK?

As the push for renewable energy solutions continues to gain momentum, many businesses in the UK are considering installing commercial solar panels to reduce their carbon footprint and energy costs. However, before embarking on a solar panel installation project, it's essential to understand the regulatory landscape, particularly in relation to planning permission. In this article, we'll explore whether commercial solar panels typically require planning permission in the UK and the conditions that might apply.


Do Commercial Properties Need Planning Permission for Solar Panels in the UK?

Permitted Development for Solar Panels


Permitted development rights are a set of rules that allow certain building works and changes of use to be carried out without the need for a planning application. The good news for those looking to install commercial solar panels is that most installations fall under Permitted Development, as of April 2015.


Specifically, commercial solar panel projects come under Class J of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015. These regulations cover:


  • Microgeneration solar thermal equipment on a building

  • Microgeneration solar PV equipment on a building; or

  • Other solar PV equipment on the roof of a building, other than a dwellinghouse or a block of flats.


However, to qualify as permitted development, solar panels must meet specific conditions, as outlined below.


Types of Solar Panel Installations and Their Conditions

Types of Solar Panel Installations and Their Conditions


Roof-Mounted Solar Panels:

  • Panels should project no more than 200mm from the wall surface or roof slope.

  • For pitched roof and flat roof installations, panels must be situated at least 1m from the external edges of the roof or the wall joint they sit on.

  • In the case of flat roof installations, panels should protrude less than 1m from the roof surface, and they cannot be the highest part of the roof (excluding the chimney).

Ground-Mounted Solar Panels:

  • A ground-mounted solar array can total no more than 9m2 (nine square meters), extending no more than 3m in any one direction and reaching no higher than 4m from the ground.

  • Only one ground-mounted system can be present in any one building.

  • Solar panels cannot be installed within 5m of the boundary of the curtilage of a listed building.

General Conditions to Be Aware Of:

  • Every commercial solar installation should be sited to minimise its overall effect on the external appearance of the building and the surrounding area.

  • If installing any other solar PV equipment on the roof of the building, aside from the panels and brackets, Prior Approval from the Local Planning Authority is needed.

  • Leaseholders must obtain permission from their landlord, freeholder or management company.

  • Compliance with building regulations governing solar panel installations, including structural safety and electrical safety.


Instances Requiring Planning Permission for Solar Panels

Instances Requiring Planning Permission


While most commercial solar panel installations fall under Permitted Development, there are instances where planning permission is necessary:

  • Solar panels on listed buildings.

  • Solar panels within the grounds of listed buildings.

  • Installation sites designated as scheduled ancient monuments.

  • Sites within conservation areas are subject to specific local rules (e.g., Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty).

  • Buildings on Article 2(3) designated land, where equipment is not installed on a wall or roof slope facing a highway.

  • Roof-mounted panels exceeding 1 megawatt capacity.

  • Systems exceeding 50kW in power generation capacity.

It's important to note that these circumstances don't guarantee rejection of a planning application, but approval is not automatic and depends on the local authority's judgment.


The Planning Permission Process


If planning permission is required, the process typically takes around 10 to 12 weeks. This includes two weeks for compiling the application and up to two months for the planning department to respond. However, specific timelines may vary based on individual cases.

For more detailed information on planning permission requirements and processes, you can refer to the official UK government webpage or consult experts at My Solar Solution Business.


Understanding whether planning permission is necessary for your commercial solar panel installation is crucial. While many projects fall under Permitted Development, it's essential to be aware of the conditions and potential exceptions. If you're unsure about your specific situation, you can ask for advice from the experts at My Solar Solution Business.

My Solar Solution Business







For personalised guidance and more information about commercial solar panel installations in the UK, don't hesitate to reach out to My Solar Solution Business. Our experts are here to assist you and answer any questions you may have. Your journey towards a sustainable energy future starts here.

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