Planning for the home of tomorrow

10 June 2018 | By Salvatore Amico

Green technology such as mini turbines and electric car charging points are starting to appear on homes around the country – but how are they affected by planning legislation? Salvatore Amico explains.

Whether mini wind turbines or electric car charging points, our homes are changing as new technology emerges – but how is this affected by planning law?

 Features such as solar panels and turbines are permitted development and do not require planning permission from the local authority.

However, there are limitations and conditions that must be observed. With panels, one condition is that the “equipment on a building should be sited, so far as is practicable, to minimise the effect on the external appearance of the building and the amenity of the area”.

The installation must also “not exceed above the highest part of the roof (excluding the chimney) and should project no more than 200mm from the roof slope or wall surface”.

Turbines have similar conditions. They can only be fitted to a detached house and must comply with Microgeneration Certification Scheme Planning Standards (MCS 020) or equivalent. Also, while the first turbine installed would be permitted development, any more at the same property would require an application for planning permission.

The next big renewables developments will be energy storage. Tesla already offers batteries for storing solar and wind energy for use at peak times.

These facilities have no defined section in planning legislation so they are being treated by local authorities as “sui generis” – literally meaning “of its own kind”. In planning terms, this means permission would be required for battery storage facilities.

However, it’s likely that scaled-down batteries which are incorporated into a home will be included as permitted development, as with solar panels and turbines.

Meanwhile, the growth in electric cars – forecast to be one-third of new vehicles sold by 2025 – means every home will need its own charging point. Currently, these only require planning permission when over 1.6m in height for ground-mounted units, or more than 0.2 cu m in volume for wall-mounted units.

Permission may also be required if the points are fitted near a highway or listed building, otherwise they will typically fall under permitted development.

Broadly, planning legislation is still behind the pace of technology – leaving plenty to think about when planning the home of the tomorrow.

Salvatore Amico is head of town and country planning at Attwaters Jameson Hill

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