Do You Need Planning Permission for Air Conditioning?

Air Conditioning and planning permission

Thinking about installing an air conditioning system in your property is a big decision with several factors and regulations to be aware of. There are lots of questions that need answering and research to do before you can even begin the installation.

One of the most common, and possibly most important, of these questions is whether or not you will need planning permission for the installation work.

What is planning permission?

Planning permission is approval given by your local authority to build on a plot, or to add changes to an already existing building. Your planning application essentially informs the authorities on what you want to do with your property, and asks for their permission to carry out the work necessary to achieve it. The onus is always on the property owner to seek planning permission, when needed, before any building work begins.

Your request can be either granted or denied based on several factors, including: appearance of the building (and if external additions might make it less attractive), value added or taken away from the property, the effect on your immediate neighbours (if any), and what the additions are being built for. There are more factors that are considered during the application process, so make sure you do your research and plan ahead for these.

Some work can fall under permitted development. These are generally smaller projects that won’t be overly disruptive to the area or other people around you, so you can do as many of these as you like. These permitted developments can be different between residential and commercial properties. There are also different rules in the case of the following: listed buildings, heritage/conservation sites, areas of natural beauty, and flats or maisonettes.

Do I need planning permission for air conditioning?

For the most part, you will not need planning permission for installing an air condition system in your home. It really depends on the size of the system. Smaller interior units with only one outdoor box generally won’t require planning permission – these will mostly fall under permitted development rights, as they aren’t disruptive to neighbours or the environment. In order for your system to fit under permitted development, the following regulations do apply. The external component of your system:

  • Can’t be more than 06.m3 in size
  • must be over a metre from the edge of a flat roof (or over 1 metre from the property boundary, if the unit is placed on the ground)
  • mustn’t be placed on a pitched roof
  • can’t share space with a wind turbine

Location of air conditioner

There are other non-regulatory factors to consider when placing your external box. Newer models can be very quiet, but it’s a good idea to take into account any potential noise pollution and place the box as far away from neighbours’ properties as you can. It’s also worth considering putting the box inside a fence or behind foliage to lessen any aesthetic clashes and maintain the value of your property.

Large Air Conditioners

For larger air conditioning systems with bigger and more numerous outdoor components, you will need planning permission. This is because the installation and running of the system may disrupt neighbours or the environment around you. The local authority have the power to ask neighbours about their views on your project before making a decision, so bear this in mind. Larger systems may also alter the external appearance of the property or involve more invasive construction, and there is a minimum safe distance required between the external compressor and the building. A larger exterior processor can be a lot louder than smaller ones, so noise pollution has to be considered.  There are systems available that are quieter, or with a ‘soft-start’ mechanism that helps to decrease noise output.

Loft conversion air conditioningWhether your work falls under permitted development or you have to apply for planning permission, the system must be installed by properly qualified engineers. For example all of our Eaglereach engineers are Category 1 FGAS-qualified, giving us the correct certifications and skills to install a safe and compliant air conditioning system.

Ask for advice

Generally, it’s always a good idea to approach your local authority before installing anything to double check whether or not you will need planning permission. If it turns out that your project does need permission and you do the work without applying for it, you can be served an enforcement notice ordering you to undo all of the changes you have made, with further penalties for non-compliance. To avoid wasting money and time, and for your own peace of mind, make sure what you are doing is allowed under permitted development.

Building regulations are overseen by UK Parliament, but local authorities are the ones who handle the processing of planning applications. Contact your local authority’s building and planning department to find out more information and begin the planning permission process.

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Eaglereach Mechanical are experts in all aspects of domestic and commercial Air Conditioning! Let us make your space cooler today.

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