Can I be sure land by our new house will never be built on?
then assess the chances of it happening in the future.
Ask the solicitor who is dealing with your conveyancing to carry out a planning search of the field. You can even do this yourself but it will involve an element of research and quite possible a trip to the local planning department. This will reveal whether any planning permissions have been submitted and if they were passed or rejected. The search will also give the current designation of the land. For example, if it is zoned for residential then I’m afraid it is only a matter of time before it is brought forward and developed. However, land classified as “common land” or a “village green” is unlikely to be granted planning permission.
It is also worth having a conversation with the local development control officer who may be able to give you some background on the land and give an indication as to whether the designation of the land will change in the future or if they have received lobbying for the change of use.
There are many different schemes which see third-party providers add solar panels to homes, but they all usually revolve around the use of feed-in tariffs. These were introduced in 2010 and are regulated by Ofgem who regulate and set the tariffs. However, changes to feed in tariffs have meant that installation is not quite as lucrative an investment as it once was.
Generally the energy generated during daylight hours is not stored so any surplus to requirements is then sold back to the electricity company at an inflated rate. There is a misconception that people who have solar panels do not have to pay electricity bills. However, if your consumption is greater than that generated, or you are using energy when the panels are not operating, such as at night, then energy will be taken from the main electricity grid and it has to be paid for in the usual way.
Although these companies often install the technology free of charge, they require owners to lease the airspace above the roof of the home. Agreements tend to be for 25 years and whilst they will take care of insurance and any maintenance they may also have right of entry to your property to carry out the work. This needs to be taken into consideration when you come to sell your property, as the new owners will need to accept their terms also.
Finally, while it is unlikely that planning permission will be required (unless the property is listed or you live in a conservation area etc.); building regulations approval may be needed.
Jonathon Wingfield is MDof Acanthus WSM Architect, Leeds, www.acanthuswsm.com.