In recent years, there has been a growing shift towards renewable energy sources, and solar panels have become increasingly popular. However, one question that often arises is whether planning permission is required for solar panel installations on commercial buildings.

In this blog post, we will explore the answer to this question and provide some recent examples of our team helping to obtain the necessary permissions.

The installation of solar panels on commercial buildings can have a significant impact on both the environment and a business’s carbon footprint. By generating clean energy, businesses can lower their energy bills and contribute to a more sustainable future. However, it is crucial to understand whether planning permission is required before embarking on such a project.

One key aspect to consider is whether planning permission is required for the type of building in question.

There are generally two routes available:

  • Prior approval
  • Full planning application

Prior Approval for Solar Panel Installation

Some commercial properties, such as industrial units or warehouses, may be considered ‘permitted development’ and may not require planning permission for the installation of solar panels. Where the installation is on a smaller scale – exceeding 50kw but less than 1MW – prior approval may be sufficient to proceed with the project.

The prior approval process requires application forms, plans (generally location plan, site plans, sometimes roof plan/section etc.), submission fee etc. The Local Authority Planning department then have 56 days to issue a decision as to if prior approval is required or approved, or advise of any conditions that may apply. Within this period the Local Authority have also to display a site notice for 21 days to allow consultation/representation from neighbour owners/occupiers.

Three examples of smaller projects where Lea Hough have helped with prior approval applications are:

  • Frozen Food facility in Ashford, Kent – 180KW (360 panels)
  • Frozen Food facility in Burgess Hill, West Sussex – Unit F – 126KW (252 panels), Unit 1 – 106KW (212 Panels)
  • Frozen Food facility in London – 300KW (601Panels)

Full Planning Applications for Solar Panel Installations

Where a solar panel project is on a larger scale, a full planning application may be required. For roof-mounted commercial solar panels, if the capacity for electricity generation across the whole of your site exceeds 1 megawatt (1 MW), planning approval is likely to be required.

Other examples where a full planning application is likely to be necessary include:

  • Solar panels to be installed on a listed building
  • Solar panels to be installed on any building within the curtilage of a listed building (i.e. within its grounds)
  • The proposed installation site has already been designated as a scheduled ancient monument
  • The installation site is within any other type of conservation area / area that is subject to specific local rules
  • If the building is on Article 2(3) designated land, and the equipment is not installed on a wall or a roof slope which fronts a highway

Examples of successful Full Planning Approvals that Lea Hough have managed include:  

  • Computacenter (UK) Ltd – Hatfield –  2009KW (6379 – Panels)
  • Edbro House, Bolton  – 1800KW (3885 panels)
  • Boundary Mills Store, Colne – 1571KW (2857 – Panels)

Contact Lea Hough

Planning permission requirements can vary depending on the specific property and any local regulations in place. Lea Hough can help businesses to understand the regulations and requirements, managing any applications for planning permission that may be required.

With our assistance, businesses can navigate the complexities of planning permission and make informed decisions about their clean energy investments. For more information, get in touch.

Preston Office
Telephone: 01772 458866
Blackburn Office
Telephone: 01254 260196
Clitheroe Office
Telephone: 01200 320040
Lancaster Office
Telephone: 01524 899850
Manchester Office
Telephone: 0161 265 0070
Lea Hough is a trading name of Lea Hough & Co LLP, which is a Limited Liability Partnership registered in England and Wales under partnership number OC306054.
Registered Office: Oakshaw House, 2 Capricorn Park, Blakewater Road, Blackburn, Lancashire, BB1 5QR