With the rising price of energy and increasing concern over climate change, many people are considering renewable energy options for their properties. Retrofitting homes to improve energy efficiency is becoming increasingly popular and often includes the incorporation of renewables.
Part 14 of the General Permitted Development Order simplifies the planning process to help make renewable energy installations an accessible option to more property owners. There are various possibilities including:
It is best to seek planning advice early on in your project to establish which options are likely to be acceptable to your local authority in planning terms. Prior approval can be a time and cost-effective form of approval but, as ever, permitted development rights do not cover every scenario. Larger installations, listed buildings and those in conservation areas or with flat rooves are more restricted but we can help guide you through alternative options.
The Government have published the British Energy Security Strategy policy paper which seeks to strengthen policy in favour of renewable energy. Amongst other, more ambitious plans, the paper promises to consult on changes to permitted development rights which could provide even greater flexibility and encourage more people to take up the renewable energy offering.
Climate change is increasingly influencing planning policy at a local level too and the planning system is on the front line in its role of decarbonising our homes and achieving net zero by 2050. Where a full planning application is needed, the NPPF supports sustainable options to reduce carbon emissions but the weighting of such policies will differ from one council to the next.
Here we take a look at a few Local Authorities in Hampshire and their approach to renewable energy.
A recent project of ours in the New Forest National Park required a full application due to the size of the ground mounted solar arrays. Whilst development can be trickier to obtain in protected areas such as this, we were able to demonstrate to the authority that the New Forest is exactly the type of environment which stands to benefit most from a more sustainable approach.
Winchester City Council published their ‘Strategic Issues and Priorities’ document in 2021, which consulted on some possible approaches to improving energy efficiency and reducing carbon emissions.
One of the proposals was to establish a carbon offsetting fund. Where developers are unable to demonstrate reduced energy consumption, improved efficiency and low carbon/renewable energy sources for new buildings, a financial contribution would be payable. That fund could then be used to support energy efficiency improvements in the existing building stock, particularly in areas identified as ‘opportunity areas’ where there is most potential to address carbon emissions. It remains to be seen what specific measures will be included in the draft Local Plan when it is published later this year.
We have had success with a planning application near Bentworth for the erection of three rows of photovoltaic panels on grass paddock land. The aim of the proposal was to increase the sustainability credentials of the site and reduce energy consumption from the electricity distribution network. Due to the countryside setting, we had to make strong arguments that the significant environmental benefits would outweigh the limited harm caused to the rural landscape character.
We can advise what is likely to be accepted under permitted development and collate the relevant evidence for the prior approval application on your behalf. Should your project not be suitable for permitted development, we can provide advice on alternative types of planning permission and an appropriate strategy to take your project forward.
Eastern South East