Heat Pumps and Planning Permission

14th September 2023


Lynn Eastwood

Town Planner




In the Clean Growth Strategy (2017) the Government committed to “phase out the installation of high-carbon fossil fuel heating in new and existing homes currently off the gas grid during the 2020s, starting with new homes.”

A government consultation was carried out in 2021 / 22 seeking stakeholders’ views on the proposals to decarbonise heat in homes off the gas grid through targeted regulations, including:

  1. An end to the installation of fossil fuel heating in homes off the gas grid from 2026;
  2. A ‘heat pump first’ approach to replacement heating systems from 2026; and
  3. Requiring high performing replacement heating systems where heat pumps cannot reasonably practicably be installed.


The plans have not been confirmed to date (August 2023); however, the government are keen to encourage homeowners to replace their existing heating systems with clean, renewable energy powered systems.

Government grants of up to £5,000 are available for the supply and fitting of new Air Source Heat Pumps through the Boiler Upgrade Scheme. You can find out if you are eligible for a grant here: https://www.gov.uk/apply-boiler-upgrade-scheme

How the Heat Pump works

You may need planning permission for the installation of an Air Source Heat Pump to your home.

Installation of an air source heat pump on domestic premises is considered to be permitted development, not needing an application for planning permission; however, there are limits and conditions to this.

Permitted development rights apply to the installation, alteration or replacement of an air source heat pump on or within the grounds of a house or block of flats (blocks of flats must consist wholly of flats, no commercial premises included).

Limits to be met:

  • Installation must comply with the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) Planning Standards or equivalent – click for further information.
  • One heat pump only per property or block of flats.
  • The unit must not be installed on any part of a wall above the level of the ground floor storey if that wall fronts a highway.
  • Not permitted if there is already a wind turbine on the premises.
  • Volume of the unit (including any housing) must not exceed 0.6 cubic metres.
  • All parts of the air source heat pump must be at least one metre from the property boundary.
  • Installation on pitched roofs not permitted.
  • On flat roofs the unit must be at least a metre from the edge of the roof.
  • Installation on or within grounds of Listed Buildings or Scheduled Monuments not permitted.
  • In Conservation Areas or World Heritage Sites the installation must not be on any part of the building or grounds which front the highway.


In addition, the following conditions must 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.


Permitted Development Rights may be removed through a Planning Condition, Article 4 Direction or other restriction.

The regulations are also subject to changes – details accurate at time of writing.

It is advisable to check these details with your Local Planning Authority.


Lawful Development Certificate (LDC)

You can apply to the Local Planning Authority to obtain a decision on whether an existing or a proposed installation is lawful for planning purposes or not. If the Council grant a Lawful Development Certificate (LDC), this provides reassurance that no enforcement action can be taken by the Local Planning Authority, and provides the required documentation during the sale of the property to prove that the installation is lawful. Aspbury Planning can assist with an LDC Application to your local council to obtain a decision on whether your installation is lawful for planning purposes or not.

We at Aspbury Planning are happy to talk through your proposal and advise the best course of action for you. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you are thinking of updating your heating system, contact us today!

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