London’s richest borough becomes first in UK to allow solar panels on historic buildings

Homeowners will not need planning permission under scheme to cut carbon

One of London’s richest boroughs has become the first in UK to give consent to solar panels on historic listed buildings without planning permission in a bid to cut carbon emissions.

The Grade II buildings are the biggest carbon emitters in the Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, generating 80 per cent of its carbon.

It is aiming to be carbon neutral by 2040.

Much of the borough is within conservation areas, with about 4,000 listed buildings.

Until now, all owners of listed buildings required individual listed building consent if they wanted to install solar equipment.

It is the first borugh in the country to relax the rules.

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

Councillor Johnny Thalassites, lead member for planning, place and environment, said the initiative will help the area move a step closer to its carbon neutral ambition.

“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 per cent 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 after support from residents during a consultation in February.

Plans were supported by residents’ associations across the borough, as well as individuals and the Historic Houses Association.

The council is working to decarbonise its own housing stock, with an estimated cost of about £100 million ($131.97m).

Updated: March 25, 2022, 6:01 PM