Do I need planning permission?
Generally speaking, no. In April 2008, HMG issued clarification about permitted domestic renewable energy development. Permitted development means permitted without planning permission being required. In essence, a reasonably normal solar installation (thermal or pv) can be fitted to the roof of a house which is not listed or in a conservation area. If you are in a conservation area (but not in a listed building), it would appear from A1c(i) below that if your South roof does not face a road you are still OK. The following is an extract from "The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Amendment) (England) Order 2008". The full document is available (at the time of writing) here.
A. The installation, alteration or replacement of solar PV or solar thermal equipment on—
(a) a dwellinghouse; or
(b) a building situated within the curtilage of a dwellinghouse.
Development not permitted
A.1. Development is not permitted by Class A, in the case of solar PV or solar thermal equipment installed on an existing wall or roof of a dwellinghouse or a building within its curtilage if—
(a) the solar PV or solar thermal equipment would protrude more than 200 millimetres beyond the plane of the wall or the roof slope when measured from the perpendicular with the external surface of the wall or roof slope;
(b) it would result in the highest part of the solar PV or solar thermal equipment being higher than the highest part of the roof (excluding any chimney);
(c) in the case of land within a conservation area or which is a World Heritage Site, the solar PV or solar thermal equipment would be installed—
(i) on a wall or roof slope forming the principal or side elevation of the dwellinghouse and would be visible from a highway; or
(ii) on a wall or roof slope of a building within the curtilage of the dwellinghouse and would be visible from a highway; or
(d) the solar PV or solar thermal equipment would be installed on a building within the curtilage of the dwellinghouse if the dwellinghouse is a listed building.
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 building;
(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.
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