Planning Rules eased for both Click-and-Collect and Solar Panels

Posted on 3 April, 2015 by Cliff Goodwin

Retailers will no longer need to apply for planning permission if they want to offer a click-and-collect service. The regulation change — which comes into effect from 15 April — is designed to help businesses cash in on the “seismic shift” in shopping habits.


Confirmed in the dying days of the last parliament, the broadening of the kind of services retailers can now offer was the coalition Government’s second major planning relaxation. From this summer companies and organisations will be able to install up to 4,000 solar panels on their rooftops without requiring planning permission.

Previously retailers were forced to pay a £195 processing application fee for their click-and-collect application. “Far from threatening the high street, online shopping offers a new opportunity,” explained the planning minister Brandon Lewis.

“How we shop is changing radically and I want to help our high streets thrive from online competition,” he added. “These measures will mean even more retailers can offer click-and-collect services, encouraging shoppers to visit their businesses and pick up their purchases at a time that suits them.”

Britain is now the biggest click-and-collect user in the world. A third of UK shoppers select online and pick up locally, compared with 13 per cent in the United States and five per cent in Germany.

Favorite click-and-collect choices are clothing and footwear, but the trend is widening with both Amazon and eBay customers now able to pick up their purchases from in-store lockers.

There is, however, a long way to go warns analyst John Mercer, of market researchers Mintel. “Click-and-collect will make up less than two per cent of all retail sales this year,” he said, “with further innovations such as more click-and-collect hubs and drive-through services still to offer the convenience that shoppers are now demanding.”

Sainsbury’s recently confirmed it intends to roll out click-and-collect facilities in 100 of its stores by Christmas. And four of the biggest food retailers — Tesco, Asda, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s — are already working with Transport for London to put refrigerated collection lockers in the capital’s  Underground car parks.

Meanwhile, “lifting the shackles” from corporate solar rooftop schemes will allow businesses to generate as much as one megawatt of “free” solar energy without the need for planning permission.

Solar panels on factory roof on sunny day.

Current development regulations forces commercial property occupiers to seek planning consent for rooftop solar arrays larger than 50kW, roughly equal to 200 panels. The upgrade is part of the last Government’s drive to encourage the uptake of commercial rooftop solar panels.

The decision was welcomed by Nina Skorupska, chief executive of the Renewable Energy Association, who predicted it would “lift the shackles” from the solar sector and  “make it much easier for factories, farms, hospitals, bus stations and other commercial buildings to generate their own sustainable electricity while also saving themselves money and resources”.

She added: “Solar installed on commercial buildings has the potential to generate significant amounts of clean electricity, yet it is a considerably underdeveloped area, and the rigidity of the planning system has long been a major barrier to its progress.”

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