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Planned Preventative Maintenance

Do air conditioning units need planning permission?

This is a question that our experts often get here at Askews, the short answer is that it depends on the building in question. The case is different for small domestic units as it is for large commercial units, and if a listed building is involved then it complicates matters even further. Here, we go into the full details about exactly how planning permission might affect air conditioning installation, and what you might have to do as part of the preparation process.

What is planning permission?

Essentially, it’s a term that refers to the official approval you need for certain types of building work. Common examples of projects that may need planning permission include conservatories, orangeries, or any work which might expand your land into a public space. Planning permissions are designed to prevent any projects or additions from being unsafe, unsightly, or inconvenient for surrounding neighbours or the general public. It’s also designed to protect listed buildings, which we’ll come onto in just a moment.

Do air conditioning units need planning permission?

Generally, no. At least, not for smaller businesses or domestic buildings. This is because they’re covered under the terms of permitted development rights. Permitted development basically grants rights for the owners of buildings to undertake certain types of work, so as long as you’ve got official and legal control over your building, you’ll generally be fine. (It’s still best to check, though!)

You probably won’t need planning permission as long as:

  • The external unit isn’t on a pitched roof
  • There’s no wind turbine at the property
  • The external unit isn’t installed within a metre of the edge of a flat roof
  • The volume of the external compressor unit doesn’t exceed 0.6³
  • The external unit is more than a metre away from the boundary of the property

However, where larger domestic buildings and commercial premises are concerned, you may well need to apply for planning permission – depending on the size and intended position of the air conditioner unit in question. You’ll also need to consider the potential noise levels of the unit, as that could be a factor too. If these reach disturbing or annoying levels for your neighbours, it could result in complains about noise pollution, and – worst case scenario – the unit being moved or removed. You can however mitigate this with sound proofing measures, which can sometimes be something as simple as surrounding the unit with fences or bushes. You can get started on planning permission on the official UK government website.

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Can you put air conditioning in a listed building?

It’ll be tough, as listed buildings have extra protections in place to preserve their architectural fabric or cultural status. A listed building, as the name suggests, is one that’s been placed on the National Heritage List for England, because of its special architectural, cultural or historic interest. Listed buildings hold either Grade I or Grade II status – most tenants and owners are likely to find that their buildings are Grade II listed, since these make up 92% of all properties on the list. These types of property absolutely cannot be modified without the consent of a local authority.

Installation of utilities like air conditioning probably won’t be permitted if they’ll impact the external appearance of the building. This is the factor most likely to pose an obstacle to installation, since conventional air conditioning requires drilling holes and placing outside units, which can easily affect the building’s aesthetics.

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that all air conditioning installations on listed buildings are impossible, just that you’ll have to jump through a lot of hoops. Basically, you may well have options, but the rules set out by the local authority aren’t optional!

Most of the time though, you’ll find that in all likelihood you won’t have to worry about planning permission – and you can always trust us to advise however we can! With over 25 years of experience behind us, we’re able to offer the full package, including a detailed preventative maintenance programme to prevent any issues. You can get a free quote right here on our website, or alternatively give us a call on 01282 863 82

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