Heat Pumps and Planning Permission

Do I need planning permission for a heat pump?

Ground and water source heat pumps

Usually, unless you live in a listed property or conservation area, ground and water source heat pumps are considered a permitted development. You shouldn’t need an application for planning permission. It is still worth checking with your local authority before starting installation, however.

Air source heat pumps

In England and Scotland you can install an air source heat pump (ASHP) as it forms part of permitted development. However in each region, the home owner needs to follow specific guidelines and not contravene them in order to proceed with the installation.

Unfortunately if you live in Wales and Northern Ireland, you will have to speak to your local authority to get a planning application submitted and approved before proceeding with the installation.

Air source heat pump permitted development criteria in England

Since the end of 2011, if you live in England, all heat pumps (air, ground and water) are considered a permitted development, so no planning permission is required. This was legislated in parliament to make it easier for individuals to install renewable technologies for their homes. Different outcomes apply however if you live in a listed property, conservation area or a world heritage site. We would advise you to contact your local planning authority for further guidance.

An air source heat pump is a permitted development provided numerous conditions are met:

    • The heat pump installation needs to adhere to the Microgeneration Certification Scheme planning standards.
    • The ASHP must only be used for heating
    • The volume of the ASHP outdoor compressor unit must not be in excess of 0.6m3
    • The ASHP must be sited to minimise its effect on the external appearance of the building.
    • You are only allowed one ASHP as a permitted development. If you also have a wind turbine or want another ASHP, then you will need to apply for planning permission.
    • The ASHP must be at least 1 metre from the edge of your property
    • An air source heat pump needs to be installed on a flat surface, be it the ground or a flat roof, however if it is elevated off the ground, it needs to be at least 1m away from the edge of the elevation.

Additional guidance in England:

    • If you are looking to install an ASHP on a listed building, permitted development rights are not applicable, contact your local planning authority for guidance.
    • On land in a conservation area/world heritage site, an ASHP must not be installed where it is visible from a highway.
    • If you are not using the ASHP for microgeneration, it must be removed as soon as practically possible.

Air source heat pump permitted development criteria in Scotland

In Scotland it is considered permitted development, unless installing an ASHP contravenes the following points:

    • It is not the only heat pump within the boundaries of your property
    • It is situated less than 100metres from your next door neighbour
    • It is visible from the main road
    • It sits on a world heritage site; is on scientific research land; considerably near a listed building or is near land for archaeological purposes.

You also need to make sure that the developer that is installing the ASHP speaks to the local authority and gets clearance for the size and type of unit being installed. Not all systems may necessarily comply with permitted development criteria.