Do I have to tell my neighbour I am installing a heat pump?

Do I have to tell my neighbour I am installing a heat pump?
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    There’s a lot of chat on forums and review websites about ‘noisy’ heat pumps. You may even have read a few horror stories about neighbourly disputes over them. However, we’re here to reassure you that a heat pump shouldn’t disturb either you or your next-door neighbour!

    You don’t need planning permission for a heat pump providing you meet certain criteria, such as locating the external unit at least 1m from the boundary of your home. However, it’s worth informing your neighbours of your plans to reassure them about noise levels and any disruption during installation.

    In this blog post, we’ll explore potential noise concerns, planning permission requirements, and what you should tell your neighbours before you go ahead.

    Cinergi is a family-run company with 30+ years of experience in home heating. We specialise in all forms of renewable energy solutions, including air source heat pumps, ground source heat pumps, solar panels and EV charging stations.

    If you are considering a heat pump but have concerns, please fill in our contact form to book a call with one of our friendly team.

    Do you need planning permission before installing an air source heat pump (ASHP)?

    In the UK, the installation of an ASHP system is typically a ‘general permitted development’ for single-family homes. This means that, in most cases, planning permission is not required.

    The Town and Country Planning Order (England, 2015) stipulates the following regarding permitted development rights for heat pumps in domestic dwellings:

    • Size of external unit – heat pumps should be no bigger than 0.6 cubic metres.
    • Distances of the external unit from the nearest house – the heat pump unit must be installed at least 1m away from the boundary of your property. If it is to be installed on a flat roof, it must be at least 1m from the edge.
    • Location of the property – if your property is in a designated conservation area, a World Heritage Site or it is a listed building or scheduled monument, planning consent is required.
    • Number of pumps – only one air source heat pump is generally permitted per property, so for residences that require more than one heat pump, planning permission must be sought.

    This list is not exhaustive, so it’s advisable to be familiar with the legislation before you begin the planning process, or you could find yourself in hot water with your neighbours or local planning authority.

    If planning permission is required

    If you need planning permission to install an external heat pump on your property, the local authority will seek approval from your neighbours as part of the planning application.

    Once it is installed, if a neighbour complains and you don’t have the necessary planning approvals, the council has the right to remove it.

    How close can a heat pump be to a neighbour’s house?

    An air source heat pump must be located at least 1m away from the boundary of your property in England and Scotland and 3m in Wales.

    However, consideration and common sense are also important. When deciding where to place your air source heat pump, give some real thought as to how it will affect your neighbours. Aim to position the unit in a location that maintains a reasonable distance and respects their privacy and peace. It’s important to keep the conversation going to alleviate their concerns.

    Are air source heat pumps noisy?

    Carrying out a noise assessment when installing a heat pump is crucial to ensure compliance with noise regulations and to avoid disturbances to both you and your neighbours.

    The heat pump should be no louder than 42 decibels at a 1m distance. As part of the planning process, your installer will make a noise assessment, identify any potential issues, and implement measures to reduce noise to acceptable levels.

    Concerns about noise are valid when installing any mechanical system. However, advancements in technology have significantly reduced the noise levels of AHSP systems.

    If your neighbour is worried about potential loud noise, you can reassure them that modern units are designed to be as quiet as possible, generally no more than 40-60 decibels, which is considered ‘quiet’.

    To give some context, a normal conversation registers at 60 decibels, and an average washing machine reaches 70 decibels. An average air pump is on par with a microwave. So, considering the unit is located outside, it should cause minimal disturbance, even when they are in the garden.

    Of course, it depends on your neighbour’s sensitivity to noise and the background noise level. If you live on a busy road, for example, the noise should be imperceptible. Open communication is the key, and hopefully, you can come to a mutually satisfactory solution.

    Should you tell your neighbour about your air source heat pump installation?

    The installation of an air source heat pump involves some disruption, particularly during the initial setup. However, a professional installation team like Cinergi will strive to minimise inconvenience and complete the job as efficiently as possible.

    While you’re not legally obligated to inform your neighbour about installing an air source heat pump, it’s certainly a polite and considerate gesture. If they are likely to be affected by the installation process, consider discussing the timeline and potential disruption with them in advance to manage expectations.

    What are my neighbour’s rights to object to a heat pump on my property?

    Your neighbour has the right to enjoy their property without undue disturbance. So, it’s essential to respect these rights and maintain open communication to address any legitimate issues that may arise.

    If they have genuine concerns about the noise or location of your air source heat pump, they may voice these concerns to relevant authorities. If you have met the criteria stated above with regard to noise, size and location, then there is no action. The only damage done is to your relationship with your neighbour!

    However, if you have not sought the necessary planning consent or if your unit is too loud, to large or too close to the neighbouring property, then the local authority has the right to ask you to remove it.

    What happens if my neighbour objects to my heat pump?

    If your neighbour objects to the installation of your air source heat pump, it’s essential to have an open and respectful conversation to understand their concerns. In some cases, compromises can be reached, such as adjusting the location of the unit or implementing additional noise-reducing measures. If a resolution cannot be reached amicably, seeking mediation or guidance from your local authority may be necessary.

    Contact Cinergi for advice on air source heat pumps

    Cinergi is a trusted, certified installer of heat pumps servicing the entire South Coast of England. To book a call with an advisor to discuss your requirements, please get in touch.

    Conclusion

    An air source heat pump can usually be installed on a domestic property without planning permission, but with some exceptions, as stated in the Town and Country Planning Order (England, 2015). Providing you meet the requirements, your neighbour shouldn’t have any grounds for complaint. However, if you have not met the guidelines or sought the necessary planning permission, then your neighbour could seek to have it removed from your property by the local authority.

    While you are not legally obliged to inform your neighbours when installing a heat pump, it’s advisable to remain considerate of their peace and privacy and to communicate your plans.

    Picture of Dan Loveridge
    Dan Loveridge

    Dan is the managing director at Cinergi, a renewable energy company based in southern England specialising in air source heat pumps and EV charging solutions.

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