Planning and climate change

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A guide to retrofitting your home

Did you know 75% of carbon emissions across our borough come from buildings? Carbon emissions come from:

  • heating buildings (particularly through gas boilers)
  • powering buildings (through electricity made by burning fossil fuels)
  • poorly insulated and leaky buildings, which require more energy to heat and power

To tackle the climate emergency, we need to upgrade our homes and buildings to be more energy efficient and powered by renewable energy.

These works are known as retrofit measures.

Benefits of retrofitting your home

Retrofitting your home will help cut carbon emissions and is a major way you can act on the climate emergency. It also brings many other benefits:

  • saving money on energy bills
  • a warmer and more comfortable home to live in
  • reducing air pollution (through removing gas boilers)

What can I do?

Retrofit measures can be both external and internal to your home.

  • External changes may range from installing solar panels, air-source heat pumps, ground source heat pumps and cladding (subject to fire safety and design considerations)
  • Internal measures can include draught proofing, and insulation between floors and walls.

Find out more about the common retrofit measures below:

Do I need planning permission?

Some retrofit alterations may require planning permission. This depends on the type of property (flat or house), the details of the proposals and site location.

Some homes in H&F are protected by their architectural or historical interest and any changes need to be considered very carefully. Planning permission may be required for homes that are:

  • Listed buildings
  • In a conservation area
  • Article 4 properties (this protects buildings from unsuitable alterations which could normally be done without planning permission)

Generally, internal changes will not require consent, unless the proposals relate to a listed building. Typically, external measures such as solar panels, air-source heat pumps and double and triple glazed windows will only require planning permission if certain criteria are not met.

Whether or not you need planning permission, you may still need building regulations consent. For more information contact building control on 020 8753 2448.

Properties in conservation areas

Conservation areas are areas of special architectural or historical interest.

If your home is in a conservation area, it is likely you will need planning permission for retrofit measures. Any changes will need to ensure they don’t detract from what is unique about the conservation area as a whole.

Find out if your property is in a conservation area and what is unique about each conservation area - Conservation areas

Properties with Article 4 Directions

Article 4 directions are designed to protect buildings from unsuitable alterations which could otherwise be done without planning permission.

If Article 4 applies to your home, it is likely you will need planning permission for retrofit works.

Find out if Article 4 applies to your home here - Properties affected by Article 4 Directions

Installation of solar panels

Image 1
Image caption: Image 1: Illustration of a single-storey house with one solar panel on the roof and solar panel equipment to the side of the house.

There are two main types of solar energy:
 

1. Solar photovoltaics (PV)

This is the most common form of solar energy.

These are solar panels or solar roof tiles that capture the sun’s energy and convert it into electricity that you can use in your home.

If you’re interested, you also have the option to join our Solar Together scheme. This helps residents to save money on solar photovoltaics by pooling buyer power.

2. Solar thermal

These are smaller panels that generate heat from sunlight, which is usually used to supply hot water.

Planning permission

Solar panels do not normally require planning permission, except where:

  • Exceeds the highest part of the roof (excluding the chimney)
  • Project more than 200mm from the roof slope or wall surface
  • Listed buildings  
  • An Article 4 direction removes permitted development rights.
  • On a wall (excluding the roof) which fronts a highway in a conservation area.

If planning permission is required, submit an application with details of:

  • Location, design and appearance (including projection of panels from roofslope).

Note: Some Article 4 properties (Properties affected by Article 4 Directions) may need planning permission.

Air source heat pumps

Image 2
Image caption: Image 2: Illustration of a cross-section of a house showing the air-source heat pump unit beside the house, blue and yellow arrows showing incoming air into the heat pump and red arrows showing warm air entering the house for the purpose of heating.
Air source heat pumps are a form of low-carbon heating and an alternative to gas boilers.

They operate by absorbing heat from outside air to provide heating.

Air source heat pumps work at lower temperatures that gas boilers. This means they work most efficient in buildings that are:

  • well insulated and draught proofed
  • have either underfloor or warm air heating

Planning permission

ASHPs do not normally require planning permission, except where:

  • Volume of ASHP unit (including housing) exceeds 0.6 cubic metres.
  • There is an existing ASHP on a building or within the curtilage.
  • It is within 1m of the boundary.
  • On pitched roofs.
  • Less than 1m from the edge of a flat roof.
  • On a listed building.
  • In a conservation area:
    • On a wall or roof which fronts a highway; or
    • Should not be nearer to any highway which bounds the curtilage.
  • Not within a conservation area:
    • On a wall which fronts a highway; or
    • Above ground floor level.
  • In all cases, if the ASHP does not meet the Government’s Microgeneration Certification Scheme Planning Standards (MCS 020) or equivalent standards.

Note: The applicant is responsible for ensuring that the ASHP meets the MCS 020. You may need to engage a consultant to obtain certification. Read more about the scheme.

If planning permission is required you will need to submit an application, this should include details of:

  • Location, design and appearance
  • Noise and vibration
  • Efficiency of the unit

Note: ASHP are best sited at the rear and away from neighbouring properties as far as practicable.

Replacement double and triple glazing windows

Image 3
Image caption: Image 3: Illustration of a thermal insulation plastic window frame profile isolated on white background. Cross-section diagram of a double glazed window pane UPVC profile reflecting cold and heat.
Energy efficient glazing covers both double and triple glazing. These are windows with two or more glass panes in a sealed unit.

Having energy efficient windows could help to reduce your carbon footprint and your energy bills.

Planning permission

Window alterations to a single house do not normally require planning permission, so long as there is no change in window frames and profile, including:

  • Material,
  • Colour,
  • Size,
  • Opening style; and
  • Design.

You will need to apply for planning permission if any of these apply:

  • The property is a flat or and maisonette. 
  • Where the materials proposed to a single house are not of a similar appearance, and / or the method of opening is not similar to the original windows.
  • Listed buildings
  • An Article 4 direction removes permitted development rights – Properties affected by Article 4 Directions | LBHF

Planning permission and insulation

Image 4
Image caption: Image 4: Diagram showing cross-section of a brick wall with “inner wall”, “insulation” and “outer wall” annotated.
Insultation is a great way to make your home more energy efficient. This will help you save money on energy bills, make your home more comfortable to live in and reduce carbon emissions.

Insulation can be split into three categories.

1. Internal insulation to existing premises

This does not require planning permission unless your property is a listed building.

2. Rebuilding to achieve high thermal efficiency

Planning permission is required if you are considering demolishing and rebuilding walls.

Planning permission is unlikely to be accepted for demolishing and rebuilding if:

  • Your home is a listed building
  • Your home is in a conservation area

Planning applications for re-building must demonstrate how the character and appearance of surrounding properties and the wider area will be maintained.

3. External cladding

External cladding must be of the same visual appearance as the existing materials used in the external construction. If it is not, planning permission will be required.

For external cladding, we recommend applying for pre-application advice.

Planning permission will be required if:

  • Your home is a listed building
  • Your home is in a conservation area and you plan to clad the outside of your house with stone, artificial stone, pebble dash, render, timber, plastic or tiles
  • Your property is affected by an Article 4 Direction (depending on the location of the cladding)

Whether or not you need planning permission, you may still need building regulations consent. For more information contact building control on 020 8753 2448.

Contact us

We currently offer free advice for residents interested in retrofitting their home for reducing carbon emissions. Please contact planning@lbhf.gov.uk

Useful links

Energy Trust: Energy advice for your home - Energy Saving Trust

Net Zero Carbon Toolkit: Cotswold District Council has collaborated with West Oxfordshire District Council and Forest of Dean District Council to produce a Net Zero Carbon Toolkit. Funded through the Local Government Association (LGA) Housing Advisers Programme, the guide has been produced by leading technical experts from Etude, the Passivhaus Trust, Levitt Bernstein and Elementa Consulting. To view a summary presentation on the Net Zero Carbon Toolkit Webinar please click on the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHPnOlvvl58