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    Finally the long awaited changes to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order are now here as an amendment for 2008, comes into effect from 6th April.


    Only lacking provision for wind turbines, while they decide on a standard for measuring sound/vibrations.
    Interesting to note these conditions:

    A.2. Development is permitted by Class A subject to the following conditions—
    (a) solar PV or solar thermal equipment installed on a building shall, so far as
    practicable, be sited so as to minimise its effect on the external appearance of the
    (b) solar PV or solar thermal equipment shall, so far as practicable, be sited so as to
    minimise its effect on the amenity of the area; and
    (c) solar PV or solar thermal equipment no longer needed for microgeneration shall be
    removed as soon as reasonably practicable.

    Seems like there's plenty of room for the average obstructive planner to wriggle out of allowing solar in those clauses.....

    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeApr 2nd 2008 edited
    Interesting reading but loads of problems...

    Nobody on my side of the road could install solar. We're in a conservation area and south facing roofs are visible from the highway.

    Stand alone solar might be an option in the back garden but for some reason they aren't allowed within five meters of the boundary. That seems daft as I could build an extension closer to the boundary and put solar panels on the roof of that where they would be even more visible yet I can't have them tucked up against the fence out of sight.

    What does it mean by.. "Development is not permitted by class B if a) it would result in the presence within the curtilage of more than one stand alone solar;"

    How do they define more than one? I assume they don't mean to preclude more than one panel as part of an array? That would limit capacity somewhat drastically. How close do panels have to be placed for them to be considered "one"? What about an array made of say three steerable panels? Not allowed?

    I see that you are allowed 9 square meters of PV but only if the largest dimension is 3Meters. So if you want all 9 meters it would have to be 3 x 3. An array 4.5 x 2 isn't allowed.
    • CommentAuthorjon
    • CommentTimeApr 2nd 2008
    Anyone writing a business plan for new solar technologies would have to be putting the UK last on the list then?

    3 metres x 3 max dims giving a max input (before losses) daytime average capacity during winter of 8 Kwh or so? Even with 50% efficiency this wouldn't be much. At 10% it's nothing noteworthy unless we have a sudden dramatic economic change such as a war or famine. It's a shame that Communities don't seem to talk to anyone with technical knowledge.

    Good think Keith got his panels installed before these new guidelines.
    • CommentAuthorDavid R
    • CommentTimeApr 3rd 2008
    It's also missing the promised changes for ASHP, which is a shame. Presumably they're still sorting out the details of the approved installers to control the noise issue.
    We have to remember these limits are only what you can do without permission, it doesn't mean you can't have any more - just that you will have to apply for Planning permission to do so.
    • CommentAuthorTerry
    • CommentTimeApr 4th 2008 edited
    ah, so thats the key then Dominic.
    They are superficially appearing to promote the use of micro generation, but allowing the planners to keep their incompetent mits on this one by limiting intallations to a useless size.
    • CommentAuthorjules
    • CommentTimeApr 4th 2008
    As far as I can understand, the point of all this is to set out the circumstances where the local planning officers cannot prevent you from installing microgeneration. In that sense, it is supposed to make things easier. As Dominic said, just because you're not in the permitted category doesn't mean you can't have it, but it will just be up to the local planners.

    What is not clear to me is whether being in a permitted development category means that you don't even need planning permission (PP), or whether it just means that the planning officers can't refuse it. For example in my case I want to install solar thermal on a roof facing over our back garden and then open fields, which would appear to be acceptable under these guidelines: but my house is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. So do I still need to apply for PP?
    Just ask them. Put it in writing, it may take a few weeks/months to get a reply, but they will tell you your situation and whether you need to apply or not. Its called a Permitted Development Enquiry (PDE) and has no effect on whether permission will be passed or not (in the event that you do need to apply)
    It depends on your location whether you are "on Article 5 land" etc., they are best placed to advise. Sometimes there will be a small charge (£25) for this letter, but it can be used when/if you come to sell your house as proof that your solar is allowed (solicitors are very good at picking up on things like this, small extensions, outbuildings, etc. that are PD but have nothing in writing to say so.)
    Where does this leaves buildings in the National Park Authority?
    Posted By: julesmeans that you don't even need planning permission

    Yup, that's about it... are is supposed to be... that's why previously the Act was quite specific, however that's also why its so disheartening to see phrases like :

    "be sited so as to minimise its effect on the amenity of the area"


    "be sited so as to minimise its effect on the external appearance of the building"

    which are ultimately subjective and therefore defeat the whole point of the exercise!!

    end result: you still have to ask the planners and they still have to say yes or no depending on how they feel that day (as the guidance is so plentiful that just about any decision can be supported in policy), spose you might have to pay them a hundred quid or so less in fees...


    • CommentAuthorTerry
    • CommentTimeApr 5th 2008
    yup, the planners will still have a say in the matter. Even if(emphasis) they cannot stop it they can force you to put it on the north side of your roof.
    The more things change the more they stay the same.
    All it is saying is be considerate, that is why it is permitted development. Its the sort of development that should be permitted - because it is reasonable by its very nature. In other words, if it doesn't affect anyone else then its fine by definition. If everyone on your street can see it then you might have to ask for planning permission, doesn't mean you won't get it - just that other people have to be considered in the process. Even if one or two object, still doesn't mean it wouldn't be passed. It all boils down to whether any reasons for refusal would stand up to appeal - if there is no good reason to refuse an application it will usually be passed.
    • CommentAuthorDavid R
    • CommentTimeApr 8th 2008
    I think the difference is that with permitted development there is no planning application as such, and therefore no consultation with your neighbours. However, you are well advised to get a letter from your planning authority confirming that the development is permitted, and as Terry says they will take that opportunity of giving their opinons on what is 'practical to minimise the development impact'. I'm guessing that if you don't like their answer, your only option is to appeal to the Secretary of State.
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeApr 9th 2008 edited
    When we tried to ammend an existing PP for a house it took 18 months of grief and cost me nearly £10,000, then they did a total about face and more or less said yes to our original proposal. Neighbours views were ignored during the whole process. So you could say I have lost confidence in the planning process to put it mildly.

    I fear this new Act will be seen as a target and that planners will pressure applicants to modify proposals so they come within the new PDR regardless if that is the best option for the location...and I don't mean best option for power generation, I mean best option regarding appearance and wishes of neighbours. They will do it just to minimise the number of planning applications they have to process.
    numbers of planning applications = more cash to Local Authority, so I don't agree there is any motivation there to reduce numbers. If your proposal is Permitted Development then that's it, if it isn't then an application needs to be made. There is no need to try and pressure anyone to make that application fit within the PD criteria, if you explain your reasoning and its the best option for power generation then it will probably come down to whether it will stand up in an appeal situation.

    I can sympathise with your expenditure, I am still paying off the credit card bills from my application.
    It takes up a lot of your time, hard-earned money and putting up with threats from your neighbours, in order to do anything that will actually make a substantial difference; perhaps they should rename that TV programme "It's not quick, cheap, or conducive to neighbourly peace, being green."
    • CommentAuthorjon
    • CommentTimeApr 9th 2008
    "numbers of planning applications = more cash to Local Authority, so I don't agree there is any motivation"

    Each application is lump summed according to value. Thus an application that contains elements that may be objected to are likely to me loss making. Those that are easy are more likely to be profitable. As these units are run on a semi commercial basis, there will always be strong pressure to steer an applicant towards the easy route: The easy route is what has been done before or what has been mandated (as opposed to 'permitted') by government. Unfortunately, the way that planning departments are set up seems to act against worthwhile green proposals.

    In my opinion, the language used by Central simply isn't strong enough to make a significant difference. Perhaps the policy-makers agree with Lawson?
    • CommentAuthorjules
    • CommentTimeApr 9th 2008
    I've just spoken to the "microgeneration expert" (she went to a seminar once) at my local council. She said that they - the planning dept - were pretty much in the dark about this as well, as they only knew it was coming in about 10 days ago. But she said that the effect was to shift the onus away from the planning dept to the householder: basically, it's up to me to make a judgement as to whether my proposal satisfies the permitted development criteria. She reckoned that if I ask the planning dept to give an opinion, they would just tell me to file a planning application. If I go ahead and at some time in the future someone objects, then they would go through the process of a retrospective planning application, which may or may not be refused of course.

    So the real issue for me (installing solar) is that I personally have to make a judgement on conditions A2(a) and (b) - is my proposal "sited so as to minimise its effect on the external appearance of the building", and is it "sited so as to minimise its effect on the amenity of the area"? As it happens, I think that my proposal succeeds in both cases because my S-facing roof looks over the back garden and fields, and doesn't really impact the neighbours. So I'm going to speak to my neighbours (she strongly recommended this), and assuming that they have no objections, I'm just going to go ahead.

    An incidental point is that permitted devpt normally excludes listed buildings, world heritage sites and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. My advisor pointed out that this new regulation does not mention AONBs, suggesting that they been deliberately excluded from the exclusions. Irrelevant for most people, but good for me as I live in one!

    For my particular circumstances therefore, this outcome is a big change from my position before April 6.
    • CommentAuthorSimonH
    • CommentTimeApr 9th 2008
    Is it only me that thinks think the rules on conservation areas and listed buildings have got it all wrong? I can see the point of wanting to keep our architectural heritage, but stopping people putting efficienct boilers, micro generation and insualtion in properties seems a nonsense, when internally they have plug sockets, radiatiors, carpets, dishwashers, new sinks and externally they have "modern garden plant varieties", lamposts, telephone wires, and parked cars all up the street.

    Does adding PV or solar hot water really denigrate the steet scene more than 40 cars parked in the street? Or sticking a flue pipe out of the front elevation look worse than a moudly brick?

    What about external insualtion, surely it's against our human rights to prevent us from adding external insulation to keep warm. I quote article 8 of the EU convention...

    Article 8

    Right to respect for private and family life

    1 Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.
    2 There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

    Might set up a nice legal precedent if someone wants to challenge a listed building refusal!

    • CommentAuthordazdread
    • CommentTimeApr 9th 2008
    I had a meeting with our planning team weeks ago and they said that they were waiting for new guidance to be issued on this subject... will have to go and meet them again to see if it has changed their advice any.

    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeApr 9th 2008
    > Is it only me that thinks think the rules on conservation areas and listed buildings have got it all wrong?

    I'm inclined to agree. We wanted to use hand made bricks on our self build but the planners said they had "too much texture" despite being allowed in another nearby village. It took them 8 weeks to give us that decision so, because we were now under time pressure, we opted for machine made bricks rather than argue. These machine made bricks had been approved for a wall elsewhere in the village so we knew they couldn't refuse them. They aren't bad but I think our original choice would have been a better match for other houses.

    On the other hand a new electricity pole and bracing wire has been planted this week out the front of our house and next to a TPO tree with no need to involve the council at all.
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeApr 9th 2008
    > new regulation does not mention AONBs,

    Permitted Development Rights can be removed from a whole area by the council making an Article 4 Direction. Check if such a direction has been made for your AONB.
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeApr 9th 2008
    Here's an idea... Put the solar panels on a 10 foot helium balloon and send it up to 10,000 foot above your house! So high the neighbours will hardly see it! Think that's really crazy? Read this....

    • CommentTimeApr 10th 2008
    quite interesting that link - can't ever see them taking off though (no pun intended!)
    Jules, do your planning dept. not offer a PDE enquiry for about £25 ? you fill in a form, including sketch plans (preferably to scale) and positions of boundaries, highways, neighbours etc. and they will write you a letter saying that in their opinion it meets PD requirements and that they have not been removed from your property or area. (mine have been removed because it is a recent conversion in the green belt - means I have to apply for everything!)
    The letter from the council is usually enough to satisfy solicitors etc. when (if) it comes to selling the house.
    Posted By: Dominic CooneyPDE enquiry for about £25

    Or free

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