Solar Victoria logo

Solar on heritage-listed properties: What you need to know

Do I need to apply for a permit to install solar panels if I live in a heritage listed property or area? How do I know if I live in a heritage-listed property?

In this article, we answer these questions and provide the steps to take so you can be assured that your move to solar doesn’t end in a removal.

Heritage protection in Victoria

The state of Victoria has a number of systems in place to protect and conserve places and objects of cultural significance.

A Heritage Overlay may protect places of significance under your local council’s planning scheme.

Places of state-level cultural heritage significance are included in the Victorian Heritage Register.

Heritage protections and solar can and do co-exist. However if your property is located in one of these areas, you may need to apply for a permit before you install solar panels on your property.

As a first step, we recommend checking whether your house is located in a protected area or listed on the Victorian Heritage Register.

How do I know if I live in a Heritage Overlay area?

To check if a Heritage Overlay applies to your property, simply:

  1. Visit VicPlanExternal Link and type in your address
  2. Check the ‘Planning Scheme Overlays’ section on the left-hand side of the screen to see whether a Heritage Overlay applies
  3. If a Heritage Overlay option applies to your property, click on this link to be taken to the planning section of your local council website which lists the specific protections that apply to this area

How do I know if my property is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register?

To check if your home is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register, visit Heritage Victoria’s websiteExternal Link and type in your address.

My property isn’t listed on either, what should I do next?

If your property is not listed on the Victorian Heritage Register and you don’t live in a Heritage Overlay area, you do not require a permit.

You can find out more about installing solar panels and applying for a rebate here.

My property is in a Heritage Overlay area but not on the Victorian Heritage Register. Does that mean I need a permit to install solar panels?

The Victorian Planning ProvisionsExternal Link have made changes in recent years to exclude solar panels in Heritage Overlay areas from requiring a permit - as long as the system is not visible from a street (other than a lane), or public park.

If your solar panels will be visible from the street, you will need to apply for planning permit. If your solar panels will not be visible, you don’t need a planning permit, even if your property is located in a Heritage Overlay.

If in doubt, go to your local council’s website to seek advice on what checks you need to make before installing solar at a property located in a Heritage Overlay. If you’re not sure which council your property is located in, find out hereExternal Link .

My property is in a Heritage Overlay area and I would like to apply for a permit to install solar panels that will be visible from the street. How do I apply?

Many councils now use VicSmartExternal Link – a streamlined assessment process for planning permits – to lodge these permit applications.

As a first step, we recommend visiting your local council’s website to see what documents you will be asked to supply to complete a planning permit application.

The requirements vary between councils however most councils offer a pre-application meeting so that you can ask questions or raise.

If you’re eligible to apply for VicSmart, your council should tell you. They will provide you with the VicSmart application form and checklistsExternal Link .

Before starting a VicSmart application, confirm with to your local council’s website to seek advice on what checks you need to make before applying. If you’re not sure which council your property is located in, find out hereExternal Link .

My property is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register, what are my options?

A place or object included in the Register is legally protected and cannot be altered in any way without a permit or permit exemption from Heritage VictoriaExternal Link . This includes any buildings and works including internal changes.

Contact Heritage Victoria for advice on how to apply for a permit or permit exemption.

Remember: you should only begin installation after all approvals and permits are provided.

While there are many factors to consider when planning to install solar on a heritage-listed home, resources are available to help you along the way. And if the outcome allows you to own clean energy – the path to getting there is worth it.

Powering your home: Solar and sunlight

If you want to maximise the benefits of solar, your panels need the most direct sunlight and that spot on your roof may be a spot that’s visible.

While you can still save money if your panels are positioned in a spot that doesn’t receive as much sunlight, it is likely that your panels won’t generate as much electricity as they would in the optimal position.

Your solar retailer can help you find the best position for your solar panels based on the individual layout and location of your home. When you speak to your retailer, make sure you inform them of any heritage requirements affecting your property so that they can take this into account when determining the solar system that will work best for your home.

You can find out more about installing solar panels and applying for a rebate here.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is provided for general advice purposes only. Information is provided on the basis that all homeowners accessing this information take responsibility for assessing the suitability of solar installation based upon local council advice and regulations.

Reviewed 10 November 2022

Subscribe now

Sign up to Solar Victoria's industry and consumer news. 

Subscribe