Planning order removes consent requirement for adding solar to homes in Chelsea and Kensington

Solar installation

Residents in Kensington and Chelsea will no longer need to apply for individual consent to have solar panels fitted on their listed homes in what appears to be a UK first.

Much of the borough is within conservation areas, with around 4,000 listed buildings. Until now, all owners of listed buildings required individual listed building consent if they wanted to instal solar equipment.

Now the Council is the first in the country to introduce a new planning order, which gives consent for solar panels on most Grade II and most Grade II* listed buildings without the need for individual listed building consent. If the building is residential, planning permission is already not needed, so installing solar panels will be much simpler in future for homeowners.

The order will include solar PV panels, including solar tiles or slates, or solar thermal panels.

There are conditions about the positioning, materials and fixings that can be used, to protect the appearance and fabric of listed buildings – this will just need a simple application to the Council.

Cllr Johnny Thalassites, lead member for planning, place and environment, said:

“We need to be innovative to tackle the climate emergency and I’m proud that we’re the first council to introduce a planning order to make solar power a realistic choice for more people.

“Removing barriers to green energy is vital because 80% of the borough’s carbon emissions come from buildings. With 4,000 listed buildings in Kensington and Chelsea, we’ll need more of these homes and businesses running on renewables if we are going to be carbon neutral by 2040.

“Protecting the unique character of our borough and its beautiful buildings is important and we know that solar panels can be installed without being visible at street level and without causing any damage to the building.”

The move comes following support from residents during a consultation in February 2022. Plans were supported by residents’ associations across the borough, as well as individuals and the Historic Houses Association.

Buildings are seemingly the biggest carbon emitter in Kensington and Chelsea. Moving to renewable energy will help reduce the borough’s reliance on carbon heavy fuels like gas and oil.

The Council is working to decarbonise its own housing stock, with an estimated cost of around £100m. Work has already begun on plans for a heat network in Notting Dale and retrofitting homes on the Lancaster West estate, with the ambition of making it a modern 21st century social housing estate and eco-neighbourhood.