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Permitted development rules for non-domestic solar are open to interpretation

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 June 2012 at 3:15 pm

Q: The wording of the permitted development legislation for non-domestic solar installations 2012, No 748, paragraph 43. A1 (c ) says that development is not permitted if: the solar PV or solar thermal equipment would be installed on a roof and within 1m of the external edge of that roof. It's not clear whether that just means the side edge of the roof, or includes the ridge and bottom of the roof. Contact with local planners here in Devon hasn't helped with the interpretation of this legislation. Can you help?

A: I contacted the press office at the Department for Communities and Local Government, and this is what its spokesperson says: "This limitation on permitted development rights is designed to prevent installations that could be inappropriate were they to extend up to the external edges of roofs. As such it attempts to minimise the visual impact of solar panel installations by encouraging installations that are subservient to the existing roof.

"Some degree of interpretation as to how legislation applies in practice on a case-by-case basis is inevitable as national legislation cannot account for every scenario. It is therefore in the first instance for local councils to determine how this limitation applies in practice."

Not surprisingly, this didn't satisfy my original enquirer, who said: "Don’t you just love how governments work ! Issue a piece of legislation with a defined measurement and then let each local planning department make up their own mind on how to interpret it…"

So please do post information about how your local council interprets this bit of planning legislation so we can begin to build up a picture of how it's working in practice.

Photo by Jaydee

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