Solar PV on heritage properties? Can you or can’t you?

Do you need permission to install solar panels?

Solar PV can be installed on most homes under permitted development rules which means you do not need permission before installing a solar PV system. However this isn’t the case if you wish to install solar panels on listed buildings, heritage properties or properties situated within a conservation area.

Can you install solar panels on listed buildings?

If you own a listed property you will need to consult LBC (Local Building Control) before installing solar panels as you may need to obtain listed building consent.

Can you install solar panels in a conservation area?

Conservation Officers have historically refused permission for installation of solar PV on heritage properties, properties in conservation areas and listed properties. However, with the UK government recently setting ambitious climate change targets,  Conservation Officers are being forced to accept the need for change and find ways around their outdated ways of thinking!

Solar PV on heritage properties

The rooftop revolution for the heritage buildings sector

Technology has dramatically shifted in recent years.  Modern solar PV systems provide recessed designs which are sympathetic and sleek in appearance.  Meaning solar PV on heritage properties is no longer the ‘eye sore’ it used to be!

Conservation roof lights set a precedent for solar PV on heritage properties

Fully integrated solar PV systems now come with recessed flashings.  The flashings are dark grey or black, and the panels and the frames can be black as well. So if a Conservation Officer would have normally approved several recessed conservation rooflights, thereby setting a  precedent in an area, then there is now absolutely no reason not to approve a fully integrated solar PV System with all black panels.

Meeting climate change targets with solar PV on heritage properties

The UK Government needs to Meet the Net Zero 2050 Obligation for carbon emissions (and it is currently well behind the curve to meet this obligation). With such a vast amount of property in the UK being heritage, listed or in a conservation area, there is added pressure on Conservation Officers in Local Government to re think their decisions and start to allow sympathetically designed Solar PV systems to be integrated into the roofs of such properties.

In response to concerns regarding problematic steps in applying for consent and the lack of permissible energy performance solutions for listed and heritage properties, recent correspondence from the RT Hon Christopher Pincher MP, Minister of State for Housing, states the following:

“The Government is fully committed to encouraging homeowners to incorporate energy efficiency measures in their properties in order to tackle climate change. As part of this, we recognise the need to ensure that more historic buildings have the right energy efficiency measures to support our zero carbon objectives.

In our recently published ‘Planning for the Future’ White Paper we have therefore committed to reviewing and updating the framework for listed buildings and conservation areas, to ensure their significance is conserved whilst allowing, where appropriate, sympathetic changes to support their continued use and address climate change. “

Solar PV alongside heritage roofing

Re-roofing provides a cost effective opportunity to install solar PV

Installing integrated solar PV on heritage properties is also not as expensive as you might think! Once you offset the cost of sourcing and replacing slate you could find that installing solar on your heritage property actually costs you very little at all!

A lot of heritage, listed and conservation properties in the UK are in need of roof replacement. This provides a cost effective opportunity to install solar PV for the following reasons:

  1. You don’t need to source and purchase as much slate. For example, if a heritage roof with 100 square metres of roof slate is being removed but only 80 square metres of slate is reusable and 20 square metres is defective, integrating 12 solar PV panels which cover 20 square meters will ensure you have enough slate to re-roof the property without having to source replacement slates.
  2. Following on from the example above. Hunting salvage yards for matching reclaimed slate can be time consuming and costly. Substituting defective slate for solar panels cuts labour costs on sourcing replacement slate and travelling time to collect replacement slate. Searching reclamation yards for a match can be time consuming.  Matching reclaimed slate can typically cost  £110 per square metre. Add to this the cost of the added labour of searching, wasted milage, locating, loading, traveling, delivery to site, then hoisting to roof level and you could easily add  another £100 per square metre to the cost! So the total cost of replacing defective slate could easily add up to £4200 for a 20 square metre area of roof.
  3. When you then consider that the current average cost of purchasing 12 x 320 watts, black solar PV panels is around the £4000-£4500 mark then it’s easy to see why installing solar become an attractive alternative to sourcing and installing reclaimed slate! In the above example you could quite easily find yourself in a cost  neutral position. I say cost neutral because you are swapping the need to source 20 square metres of secondhand reclaimed slates and the labour of installing them versus a brand new 20 square metre fully integrated and recessed solar PV system on your roof generating electricity from the natural occurring daylight.
  4. Your 20 square metre solar PV system could produce around 3000 KWH of electric per year. This could be used to power appliances in your home or you could save it in a hybrid battery storage system for use later.  At a current electricity price of 17p per KWH, your Solar PV power plant is producing around £500 worth of electric that you could utilise in your heritage property.
  5. There is also a another huge bonus! The Solar PV cells in the solar panels generally perform at above 80% of their original efficiency for 25 years +. So as electricity prices rise each year the yeald that your solar system is producing is increasing year on year.
  6. Using an electricity price increase year on year of 6.9% then in 12 years you could be looking at an electricity price of 34p. If that were the case your solar PV system should be producing around £1000 worth of electricity. And in 24 years at a price of 68p it should be producing around £2000 worth of electricity.

You can find our more about solar PV pricing in our Solar PV and Battery Storage Pricing Guide.

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