Planning rules to be relaxed for heat pumps and solar panels on listed buildings

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  • WizzyWigg's Avatar
    Level 76
    An article from this morning's Daily Telegraph.

    Planning rules are to be relaxed so that heat pumps and solar panels can be more easily installed on listed buildings, ministers have announced.
    Owners of historic homes will no longer need to apply for permission to install green technology under the proposals by the housing department.
    The changes would affect just under three million properties in England and are part of efforts to hit net zero targets on household emissions.
    Under the current system, people whose homes are listed or located in a conservation area must apply for individual building consent to make upgrades. The rules are designed to ensure that inappropriate and unsightly additions cannot be made to historic buildings and risk blighting their appearance.
    Ministers now want to revamp the system so that councils can give blanket permission for whole areas to install net zero technology.
    Such a change would mean that owners of historic homes could install solar panels, heat pumps and double glazing so long as they met certain conditions.
    But critics warned the plans risked blighting historic buildings and said protections should not be removed just to satisfy climate targets.
    Rishi Sunak has previously had to back down to Tory MPs over planning by agreeing to effectively ditch house-building targets. However the new changes build on existing rules so are not expected to require fresh legislation, sparing him from another row with his backbenchers.
    The Government’s net zero plans have been unpopular with backbenchers and he is also facing a Commons rebellion over his plans to fine boiler companies that do not hit heat pump installation targets.
    Ministers are separately set to announce on Thursday that farmers will be handed taxpayer grants for building cycle lanes through their fields.
    Under post-Brexit reforms the system of agricultural subsidies will be expanded to cover the installation of bike lanes, footpaths and bridleways.
    Steve Barclay, the Environment Secretary, will say that the new measure is designed to make the countryside more accessible to the public.
    Features of listed buildings ‘will be properly protected’
    Duncan Wilson, the chief executive of Historic England, said listed buildings “can and must accommodate change” to help the UK hit climate targets.
    Ministers insisted the new rules, to be announced following a review, will “ensure the important historical and beautiful features of these homes are properly protected”.
    They added that “improving the energy efficiency of historic homes is necessary for their long-term survival as it will ensure they continue to be desirable places to live and are maintained as important heritage assets”.
    Baroness Penn, the minister for housing, said: “Our historic homes are the jewel in the crown of this country’s heritage and must be protected.
    “This review will ensure they are preserved for future generations to enjoy, while also improve the lives of those who live in them by reducing their energy costs, supporting us in our shared goal to reach Net Zero by 2050.”
    Historic England has suggested conditions could include not putting solar panels on the main roofs of buildings and installing heat pumps out of public sight.
    Reform must avoid ‘unsightly additions’
    Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg, a former business secretary, said: “I am in favour of increasing permitted development rights.
    “The planning system for listed buildings and conservation areas is hopelessly bureaucratic and unnecessarily intrusive.
    “However, it needs fundamental reform that maintains suitable protections.
    “Just allowing the most potentially unsightly additions for ideological green reasons is not the right way to reform the system.”
    There are currently around 350,000 listed properties in England, plus a further 2.8 million which are located within conservation areas.
    Greg Smith, the Tory MP for Buckingham, said: “It’s unacceptable for listed and heritage buildings to have ugly and unnecessary tech strapped to them in the name of net zero when technology is developing all the time.
    “This rush to go for the first available solution is foolish and we should allow our great innovators to come up with better ideas, such as synthetic fuels for oil boilers.”
    Planning rules are ‘barrier’ to green technology installation
    Under the proposals they would be covered by Local Listed Building Consent Orders, which can be issued by councils or the Housing Secretary.
    They have been tabled following a public consultation carried out by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC).
    It found planning rules were “identified as one of the key barriers” to installing solar panels, heat pumps and double glazing in historic homes.
    Respondents said “obtaining planning permission or listed building consent took ‘too long’, which not only led to frustration but could also mean losing out on financial support”.
    “It was suggested that some people have been put off from pursuing retrofit measures for their home by their perception that the planning process is too complex and uncertain to navigate,” the consultation said.
    It also found that the “conditional remediations” owners of historic buildings have to agree to in order to install heat pumps “can be prohibitively expensive”.
    “Remediations might include an acoustic enclosure reducing heat pump noise, or an aesthetic enclosure sympathetic to the character of the property,” the paper said.
  • 2 Replies

  • meldrewreborn's Avatar
    Level 91
    @WizzyWigg

    Another area where the owner of a property is restricted in their ownership for the visual benefit of others. Frankly, I do not foresee a rush here, as the most important factor for owners will be the impact on future resale value, which would probably be negative.
    Current Eon Next and EDF customer, ex Zog and Symbio. Don't think dual fuel saves money and don't like smart meters. Chronologically Gifted. If I offend let me know by private message, but I’ll continue to express my opinions nonetheless.
  • DebF_EONNext's Avatar
    Community Team
    This is interesting @WizzyWigg if it was to go through, I wonder if Scotland would follow suit 🤔 I think it would be at the discretion of the local authority too I would imagine. My house was built in the 1700's and we had solar panels however my Grandad's was built in 1800's it's listed (as some explorer lived there for a few) and he can't install solar, it is very restrictive!
    "Green is the prime colour of the world and that from which it's loveliness arises"-Pedro Calderon De La Barca 🌳

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