Development approvals for solar
Going solar in the Inner West
Going solar is not only great for reducing your carbon footprint, but also for reducing your electricity bills. That’s why we’re making it easier to go solar in the Inner West.
In many cases, solar installations are considered ‘exempt development’, which means you don’t need to get planning approval from Council. But if you do require approval, we’ve created a streamlined Development Application (DA) process for solar-only applications where all application fees are waived.
Do you need approval for your solar installation?
Approval is generally not required in the following cases:
- The solar system is installed on a property that is not in a Heritage Conservation Area or a Heritage Item. To check if this applies to your property, read the heritage section below; and,
- The solar system does not protrude more than 0.5m from the point of attachment and is not attached to the ground.
If your proposed solar installation meets these requirements, you can go ahead with installation - you don't need Council approval. For details of all requirements, please refer to Section 2.41(3) of State Environmental Planning Policy (Transport and Infrastructure) 2021.
If your installation doesn’t meet these requirements, you may need to lodge a Development Application (DA) with Council. To check if you need a DA, read on.
A standard sized solar installation for inner west households is usually 3 to 6kW. Larger systems are likely to be relevant to businesses, schools and other non-residential properties.
Check if you need Council approval for your installation
For the full details on when Council approval is required, please refer to Section 2.41(3) of State
If you're still not sure, speak to one of Council's duty planners who may be able to assist. The duty planners can be contacted on (02) 9392 5000, or in person at Leichhardt Service Centre from 8.30 am – 4.30 pm Monday to Friday.
How to apply if you need development approval
If required, lodge a DA with Council through our streamlined fee-free solar-only DA process by completing the following forms and providing the required information.
- Development Application form (PDF 263.1KB); and
- Statement of environmental effects form - solar energy systems; and
- Provide a site plan (this is usually an aerial photo showing the location of the panels - Example site plan); and,
- If the system is not flush with the roof, an elevation or section plan will be required.
It’s important to note that while we encourage residents to go solar, we can’t guarantee an approval if you need to lodge a DA to install a solar system. This is because the DA process involves a merit assessment, where our Planners need to take into consideration the potential impacts of the proposed solar system on things like the character of the streetscape and the value of the heritage conservation area or heritage item.
That’s why we’ve made applying for solar installations fee-free, so if we can’t give approval, you don’t lose out.
If your property is a listed Heritage Item or within a Heritage Conservation Area
The Inner West's heritage buildings and heritage conservation areas enrich our precincts and make a positive contribution to the history and character of our urban environment. When adding solar panels to a property with heritage significance, it's important to respect these values.
In some cases, solar installation on a heritage property may not need planning approval. Follow the three steps below to see whether you fall into this category (known as "Exempt Development"). If you don't fall into this category, you may still be able to install solar – but you will need planning approval from Council (i.e. you’ll need to lodge a DA).
Council can assist you to work out the best options to install solar and retain your property's heritage significance.
Step 1: Check if your property is heritage listed
To check if your building is either a Heritage Item or in a Heritage Conservation Area, do an address search via the NSW Planning Portal Spatial Viewer:
- Insert address at top left of screen (select address tab at top left of page)
- Below the address section, go to "Layers"
- Select the drop-down "Principal Planning Layers" and tick both "State Heritage Register Curtilage" and "EPI Heritage" registers
If the address search results show your property in solid brown (Heritage Item) or diagonal red stripes (Heritage Conservation Area), then your property is affected by heritage.
Continue on to find out how to install solar without needing approval, while retaining your property's heritage value.
Step 2: Review Council's best practice solar and heritage design guidance
a) Position solar panels where they will have minimal visual impact
Best practice for the location of solar panels minimises visual impacts by placing solar panels where they cannot be seen from the primary road or other public locations. A primary road is the road to which the front of a house (or main building) faces. This is usually the road referenced in the property address.
The following are suggested solar panel positions which include on rear additions, secondary wings or outbuildings, in roof valleys or behind parapets. Panels should not detract from the setting of the building.
b) Solar panels should be parallel or at minimal projection from the roof plane (no greater than 500mm)
Solar panels should be parallel or flush with the roof plane or use a bracket system with a minimal projection above the existing roof, to ensure they minimise interruption to the form of the historic roof.
c) Avoid irreversible alteration or damage
Ensure the building's fabric and structural integrity are protected when adding solar panels. New solar panels should be attached to avoid physical impacts to the historic structure and significant roofing materials.
Some roof cladding, like slate or timber shingles, are becoming increasingly rare in Sydney and have a high replacement cost.
High heritage value roofing materials
Lower heritage value roofing materials
Contact our duty planners by phone on (02) 9392 5000 or visit in person at Leichhardt Service Centre between 8.30am - 4.30pm Monday to Friday.
More information can be found on Council's Planning advice services page.
Planning advice services