Planning Permission for air conditioning units.

Planning permission used to be commonly required for nearly all forms of air conditioning equipment. The main concerns of planning authorities was around the noise and external appearance of the air conditioning condenser units.

However,  new rules came into force in December 2011 regarding planning permission for domestic air source heat pumps (i.e. air conditioning units) installations. These new rules mean planning permission is no longer an issue.

Air source heat pumps now join the ranks of the likes of solar PV, solar thermal and biomass boilers, and are now classified as a permitted development in England. There are however, a few stipulations and the following criteria must be met:

[ul style=”3″] [li]That there is no wind turbine at the property [/li] [li]Additional criteria applies if you live in a listed building, a conservation area or a World Heritage Site [/li] [li]The external unit is less than 0.6 m3 in size [/li] [li]The unit is more than one metre from the edge of the householder’s property [/li] [li]It is not on a pitched roof or near the edge of a flat roof. [/li] [/ul]

Full details of the legislation can be found here:

Listed Building Consent

Planning permission and listed building consent will normally be required to install air conditioning and refrigeration units on the exterior of buildings. Listed building consent may also be required to install units within listed buildings where units would disrupt architectural features and fixtures.

You would be unlikely to get any form of Listed Building consent to install air conditioning condensers located on the front elevation (or any other conspicuous elevation) of buildings, including roofs and the flat roofs of projecting frontages.

Big improvements have been made in recent years to the size of air conditioning external units, so they are a lot smaller and quieter than they used to be. There are even ranges of units that have no external units at all. That said, they still have to vent through the wall somewhere and you guessed it, you even need Listed building consent to install ventilation grilles on the front elevation (or any conspicuous elevations).

So, as with all of these things, there are trade off’s so it is best talk to a specialist before rushing out to buy and self install units such as these for listed buildings.

Building Regulations

Currently, Building Regulation Approval is not required for the installation of air conditioning. Note however, that any associated electrical installation must comply with electrical safety standards.

Landlord’s Consent

If your property is leased, the provisions of your tenancy agreement will almost certainly require you to obtain consent from your landlord before installing building services such as air conditioning. Whilst such consent should not unreasonably be withheld, it is always advisable to consult and gain agreement with your landlord before commencing any air conditioning installation work.

It should also be remembered that your tenancy may require you to restore the property back to its original condition at the end of your lease. In the case of air conditioning, however, this may well enhance the rental value of the property and the landlord may, on this basis, be content to waive the requirement for it to be removed