Planning Permission

Ground source or water source heat pump

The installation of a ground source heat pump or a water source heat pump on domestic premises is usually considered to be permitted development, not needing an application for planning permission.

If you live in a listed building or a conservation area you should contact your council to check on local requirements.

Air source heat pumps

From 1 December 2011 the installation of an air source heat pump on domestic premises is considered to be permitted development, not needing an application for planning permission, provided ALL the limits and conditions listed below are met.

These permitted development rights apply to the installation, alteration or replacement of an air source heat pump on a house or block of flats, or within the curtilage (garden or grounds) of a house or block of flats, including on a building within that curtilage. A block of flats must consist wholly of flats (e.g. should not also contain commercial premises).

Limits to be met:

  • Development is permitted only if the air source heat pump installation complies with the Microgeneration Certification Scheme Planning Standards or equivalent standards. Read more about the scheme.
  • The volume of the air source heat pump’s outdoor compressor unit (including housing) must not exceed 0.6 cubic metres.
  • Only the first installation of an air source heat pump would be permitted development, and only if there is no existing wind turbine on a building or within the curtilage of that property. Additional wind turbines or air source heat pumps at the same property requires an application for planning permission.
  • All parts of the air source heat pump must be at least one metre from the property boundary.
  • Installations on pitched roofs are not permitted development. If installed on a flat roof all parts of the air source heat pump must be at least one metre from the external edge of that roof.
  • Permitted development rights do not apply for installations within the curtilage of a Listed Building or within a site designated as a Scheduled Monument.
  • On land within a Conservation Area or World Heritage Site the air source heat pump must not be installed on a wall or roof which fronts a highway or be nearer to any highway which bounds the property than any part of the building.
  • On land that is not within a Conservation Area or World Heritage Site, the air source heat pump must not be installed on a wall if that wall fronts a highway and any part of that wall is above the level of the ground storey.

In addition, the following conditions must also be met. The air source heat pump must be:

  • used solely for heating purposes.
  • removed as soon as reasonably practicable when it is no longer needed for microgeneration.
  • sited, so far as is practicable, to minimise its effect on the external appearance of the building and its effect on the amenity of the area.

You may wish to discuss with the Local Planning Authority for your area whether all of these limits and conditions will be met.

Planning permission for heat pumps

Ground and water source heat pumps are permitted developments.

Air source heat pumps are also permitted development as long as they meet a long list of additional criteria. Noise is one of the main issues. To meet the MCS020 planning standards, noise from ASHPs must be below 42dB at a position one metre external to the centre point of any door or window to a habitable room of a neighbouring property as measured perpendicular to the plane of the door or window.

It is a condition of permitted development that the ASHP can only be used for heating purposes.

Other exclusion criteria include:

  • there's not another ASHP already installed on the building
  • there's not a wind turbine installed
  • the volume of the pump's outdoor compressor is not bigger than 0.6 cubic metres
  • any part of the pump is installed within one metre of the boundary
  • listed buildings and scheduled monuments

And there are additional criteria if you are in a conservation area or World Heritage Site.

Installation of either a ground source or air source heat pump will have to comply with the Building Regulations. Make sure that your installer belongs to either the Microgeneration Certification Scheme

Up-to-date advice is available on the government’s planning portal.

For those of you living in Wales, from the beginning of September 2009, the Welsh Assembly Government announced new planning rules to encourage householders to install renewable energy equipment.


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