Can I Install Solar Panels On Listed Buildings?

Can I install solar panels on listed buildings?’ is a common question asked by those looking to take the next step toward renewable energy production.

Installing solar panels on a listed building can be a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and save on energy bills. However, because listed buildings are often considered historically and architecturally significant, any modifications to the building’s exterior or structure are subject to strict regulations. 

As a result, many people are still determining whether it’s possible to install solar panels on a listed building or what the process involves. 

In this article, we’ll explore the regulations surrounding solar panel installations on listed buildings in the UK and provide some guidance on how to navigate the planning process.

What Is A Listed Building? 

In the UK, a listed building has been officially recognised and protected by law for its architectural, cultural or historical importance. 

These buildings are usually recognised because of their age, structure, rarity, or an association with an important figure or event. They are given a grade which helps people to recognise their significance; these include:

  • Grade I – Buildings of exceptional interest 
  • Grade II* – Important buildings of more than special interest 
  • Grade II – Buildings of special interest, warranting every effort for preservation 

No matter the grade, owners of listed buildings are legally responsible for obtaining permission from local planning authorities before making any changes or alterations to the property – including solar panels. 

Do Solar Panels Need To Be Approved For Listed Buildings?

To make any changes to a listed building, including installing solar panels or tiles, you must contact your local council for permission. This is because a badly-done installation could damage the structure of the listed building – potentially ruining years of historical significance.

It’s, therefore, important to work with your local council to find a safe, efficient way to install solar panels that won’t damage the existing structure of the building and won’t ruin the aesthetics of an architecturally significant building.

How Do You Get Planning Permission To Install Solar Panels On Listed Buildings?

To get planning permission to install solar panels on a listed building, you must apply for LBC (Listed Building Consent) and planning permission through your local council. 

To do this, you can either find the relevant forms on GOV.UK, or you can visit your local council offices to speak to an advisor and ask for the relevant forms. Both are effective ways to begin the process of asking for permission. 

The application may have to include detailed plans and drawings of the proposed installation, as well as an explanation of how the panels will be sympathetic to the character and appearance of the building.

Once the full application has been submitted, the council will review your planning application and make a decision on whether to grant permission for your installation. Depending on the scale of the project, this could take several weeks to several months. 

The Pros And Cons Of Solar Panels For Listed Buildings 

Before installing solar panels on your listed building, consider the pros and cons to ensure it’s the right choice for your project. 

The Pros Of Solar Panels For Historical Buildings 

There are many reasons why a solar panel installation may be of huge benefit to your listed building. Some of the key reasons include:

  • Lower energy bills – Historical buildings are known for having low energy efficiency. Solar panels can help to improve this by offering a renewable energy source independent from the grid, cutting down on bills substantially. 
  • Environmental protection – Solar panels are a clean and renewable source of energy. They help to reduce your property’s carbon footprint, reducing its impact on the environment. 
  • Great ROI – Solar panels are known for having a fantastic return on investment. An investment in solar panels is an investment in the future!
  • Increase property value – Solar panels can often increase your property value. If you plan to sell your historic home at some point in the future, this can be a great way to higher your resale value. 

All of these things will help you to save money, decrease your environmental impact and create a better clean energy supply for years to come. 

The Cons Of Solar Panels For Historical Buildings 

With any large project, there are some cons to consider before pursuing it further. Some of the key things to think about include:

  • Planning permission – filing and waiting for planning permission can be complex and time-consuming. You must be dedicated to your project to follow through with each step of the guidelines. 
  • Visual Impact – Some people may not like the look of solar panels on a listed building, especially if it has architectural significance. It will be important to blend your solar system into the design of your building – especially if it’s a public building. 
  • Structural impact – Installing solar panels on a listed building may require modifications to the structure, which could potentially harm the building’s historic fabric.

It is worth noting that there are solutions for all of these issues. If you feel confident that solar panels will be a great addition to your listed building – don’t let these discourage you!

How Do You Preserve The Character Of Listed Buildings?

One of the biggest concerns when installing modern technology on historical buildings is how to preserve the original architecture’s character. 

For example, installing a large metal rack and traditional solar panels on top of a Gothic cathedral may not be the best option for blending a solar system into the architecture. 

However, there are a variety of modern solar systems that can better help you do this. For example, solar tiles can be installed to mimic the appearance of roof tiles or shingles – blending seamlessly into the design of a building. Likewise, integrated solar panels can be built into the roof of a building, reducing the need for wracking. 

Alternatively, if the property has a lot of land, you could consider installing a solar farm to generate power for your building without placing the panels on the building itself. 

With solar technology becoming increasingly advanced, there are plenty of ways to integrate solar tech into your building without creating an eyesore. 

Contact Solar Panel Experts Today 

‘Can I install solar panels on listed buildings?’ is a question with many components. We hope that this article has helped to give you a clearer view of the process of applying for permissions and some of the ways you could blend solar panels or solar tiles into the design of your historic building.

Smartly is a UK leader in solar technology. We provide a range of solar systems for commercial and domestic properties, working with our clients with everything from design to installation to ensure a perfect fit for your property. 

To discuss the best ways to install a solar system at your property or a listed building, contact us with your specifications and details, and one of our solar experts will be happy to talk you through possible solar systems that could work for your needs.

Contact us using the live chat feature at the bottom of this page, or send us a message detailing your solar requirements.