Advice for Replacing Windows in Conservation Areas

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Advice for Replacing Windows in Conservation Areas

If you own a house in a conservation area, you’ll likely have been made aware when you purchased it that there are limitations to what you can do with it. These regulations are designed to stop someone turning a thatched cottage in a kitsch apartment block, but they can prove to be problematic for householders just trying to replace their windows.
The aim of designating a place as a conservation area is to maintain the character of that area. Often, the value of all properties in a location are dependent on the overall aesthetics, making it worth your while to be as sensitive to conservation rules as possible. You may need to apply for planning permission before you undertake any works to your property, and you can be forced to reverse any damage caused by improvements that haven’t been approved and are deemed to be undesirable by the local council.
Every conservation area will have its own unique character, and this impacts the type of work you can do and what factors you will have to consider when you install new windows. They could include the following:

- Position of the window and arrangement of any openings
- Construction of the joints
- Thickness and profile of the glass, glazing bars and rails
- Proportions of the sashes
- Material used for the frame

The last one is a point that frustrates many homeowners trying to update their property in a conservation area. Old windows are prone to draughts, vastly reducing the energy efficiency of your home. You can feel caught between a rock and a hard place as you try to improve the efficiency of a property while being trapped by rules on the materials you can use. Fortunately, innovation has caught up with this conundrum. The replacement of timber windows with more modern alternatives has usually been fraught with difficulty. However, composite materials developed exclusively for your property can overcome the objections put forth by the local authority and any protectors of the conservation area.
The key point is that new windows should not be considerably different from the original design. That means you won’t have much leeway when it comes to the style of window – often sash windows – but you can use uPVC alternatives to timber frames if they look as similar as possible.
Using uPVC in this way often clears any hurdles the local authority throws into your path but remember that it’s vital to check prior to installation. Planning officials are using willing to help householders who need to improve the energy efficiency of their property but who are striving to maintain the original character as per the regulations of the conservation area. However, if you plough on regardless and hope that planning officials will agree with you retrospectively that your new uPVC windows are within the style of the area, you might be in for a nasty shock.
Always check and always respect the character of the conservation area. That said, with the right window partner, there’s no reason why you can’t source and install an energy efficient alternative to your draughty old timber frames.
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