What You Need to Know About Installing Solar Panels on Listed Buildings

As the demand for renewable energy solutions grows, many homeowners are considering solar panel installations. However, for owners of listed properties, the process involves additional considerations and regulations. Historic England, the public body that looks after England’s historic environment, has provided updated guidance to help streamline this process while preserving the heritage value of these buildings.

Understanding Listed Properties

Listed properties are buildings of special architectural or historic interest. This status is meant to protect the character and appearance of these structures, ensuring any alterations or additions do not compromise their historical integrity. This protection extends to both the exterior and interior of the buildings.

You can find out if your home is a listed building by looking on the National Heritage List for England (NHLE) website which has the official register of all listed buildings in England.

Changes in Planning for Solar Panel Installations

Although listed building consent (LBC) is still required to install any type of photovoltaic (PV) installation on a listed building or scheduled monument, local authorities are now being encouraged to approve planning request requests to lower carbon emissions. Recent updates from Historic England reflect a more flexible approach towards integrating renewable energy technologies like solar panels on listed buildings. These changes aim to balance the need for sustainability with the preservation of historic properties.

Key Considerations:

  1. Visual Impact: The primary concern is the visual impact of solar panels on the historic character of the property. Panels should be installed in locations that are not prominently visible from the public realm. This might include roof slopes that are not street-facing or integrating panels into existing structures like outbuildings.
  2. Reversibility: Installations should be reversible, meaning they can be removed without causing significant harm to the building. This ensures that future generations can restore the property to its original state if desired.
  3. Material and Design Compatibility: The materials and design of the solar panels and their mounting systems should be sympathetic to the existing structure. This includes matching the colour and texture of the panels to the roofing materials.
  4. Minimal Intrusion: Installations should minimise physical interventions to the historic fabric of the building. For instance, using non-invasive fixing methods and ensuring that wiring and other components are discreetly placed.

Historic England’s Guidance

Historic England provides detailed guidance on how to approach solar panel installations on listed properties. Their advice includes:

  • Early Consultation: Engaging with local planning authorities and conservation officers early in the planning process can help identify acceptable solutions and streamline the approval process.
  • Assessment of Significance: A thorough assessment of the building’s historical significance can help determine the most appropriate locations for installations.
  • Case Studies and Examples: Historic England provides examples of successful installations on listed properties, showcasing best practices and innovative solutions that respect the historic environment.
Photo from Historic England of Chippenham Hall – a Grade II listed building that has installed solar panels in the grounds so as not to affect the appearance of the property itself.

Benefits of Solar Panels on Listed Properties

Despite the challenges, there are significant benefits to installing solar panels on listed properties:

  • Energy Savings: Solar panels can significantly reduce energy bills, making historic properties more sustainable and economical to maintain.
  • Environmental Impact: Utilising renewable energy sources helps reduce the carbon footprint of these properties, contributing to broader environmental goals.
  • Increased Property Value: Renewable energy installations can enhance the value of a property by making it more attractive to environmentally conscious buyers.

The Importance of Choosing a Reputable Solar Installation Company

When planning to install solar panels on listed buildings, it’s crucial to work with a reputable solar installation company. A trusted company like Sunlit Solar brings several advantages:

  • Expertise: Experienced companies understand the unique challenges and regulations involved in installing solar panels on listed properties. They can navigate the planning process efficiently and ensure compliance with Historic England’s guidelines.
  • Quality Workmanship: A reputable installer ensures that the solar panels are installed with precision and care, preserving the integrity of the historic building.
  • Customised Solutions: Companies like Sunlit Solar provide tailored solutions that respect the aesthetic and structural characteristics of the property, ensuring the installation is both effective and unobtrusive.

When choosing a solar panel installer, ask for examples of their work, including on historic buildings, so that you can be sure that they have experience working on listed buildings. Sunlit Solar have examples of installations that they have completed on period properties in this blog: Make Your Period Propety More Enegy Efficient.

Summary

The integration of solar panels on listed properties requires careful planning and adherence to regulatory guidelines. However, with the updated guidance from Historic England, homeowners can find a balance between preserving the historical integrity of their properties and embracing modern renewable energy solutions. By considering visual impact, reversibility, compatibility and minimal intrusion, it is possible to successfully install solar panels on listed properties and enjoy the benefits of sustainable energy.

For more detailed information, visit the Historic England website or contact your local planning authority. And for expert installation, reach out to Sunlit Solar to ensure your project is in capable hands. Contact us on:

Phone: 01458 834 936

Email: info@sunlit-solar.co.uk

Web: www.sunlit-solar.co.uk

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