Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas

When changing the exterior of your listed building you need an expert – which is where we come in!

Listed Buildings are protected under the Planning (Listed Building and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 and covers buildings of architectural or historical character and interest. Your house could also fall under a Conservation Area, which is a part of land which is worth preserving, including the buildings, trees, pavements etc. Before making any changes which affects it’s character, listed building consent needs to be obtained from the Planning Services department. It is a criminal offence to make any changes without this in place.

There are around 500,000 listed buildings in the UK and they are given one of 3 statuses –

  • Grade I (around 2.5% of all listed buildings) – buildings of exceptional interest
  • Grade II* (around 5.5% of all listed buildings) – particularly important buildings of more than special interest
  • Grade II (around 92% of all listed buildings) – buildings that are of special interest and the most likely grade of listing for a home owner

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If you wish to make changes to the windows of a listed building, you need to apply for consent when –

  • The style of window will be changed
  • The frame material will be changed
  • You wish to make a change to the type of glazing (eg double glazed) and the original glass will be lost
  • The windows will be repainted to a different colour
  • You wish to replace modern-style windows with a traditional style which is more appropriate

Usually, making repairs or making a like-for-like replacement (i.e using traditional methods and materials) would not require consent. However, we would always recommend you check with the Planning Services department before making any changes, as sometimes consent is required, depending on the exact circumstances of the work.

If you skip applying for consent and the plan is not approved it could result in demolition and/or restoration, so it is vital that this is your first step when you have planned out with us what you wish to change. Its now really simple to send your application, the easiest way is online using the Planning Portal. You can submit your plans and any supporting documents and photographs through the portal without having to send off any additional forms. It may take a few months for permission to be granted, so be prepared to expect this, and if urgent changes need to be made it is probably preferable to have the windows repaired as this does not require consent.
Replacement windows for buildings which aren’t listed or in conservation areas must meet the thermal standards of Building Regulation Guidance. This is part of the Government’s initiatives to reduce CO2 emissions in buildings, however because most energy saving upgrades to windows will affect the character of the building, this is not always the case for listed buildings. One option is to use Slimlite double glazing, which is thinner than standard double glazing and is suitable for use in many existing casements. Alternatively, if you have to retain the original glass, secondary glazing is another option. As it does not affect the external appearance of the property you don’t usually need consent for the work to be carried out and it is simply another window on the inside of your property. They don’t need to be obtrusive, and we can match the aesthetics of the original window for a perfect finish. Secondary glazing doesn’t just reduce your CO2 emissions, and your heating bill, it also gives you improved security thanks to secure locks and helps with noise reduction.

When putting in your application for planning permission and listed building consent, there will be several factors which are taken into account. In nearly all circumstances, conservation officers will recommend repairs over complete replacements. It is only if the windows are ‘beyond economical repair’ or the issues are so severe it could cause damage to the property if not fully replaced that a repair would not be deemed sufficient. If the existing windows are not originals, replacing them with a design more similar to the original is generally accepted, as long as the design, materials and techniques used are as authentic as possible. When submitting your application, attention to detail is vital and it is advisable to submit original photographs along with the drawings and designs for the new windows.

The most important thing when submitting an application is to firstly build a solid case for it, make sure you choose a reputable restoration company who is experienced, and most importantly be truthful on your application. It will always help your case if you are honest and if some of the windows can be repaired instead of replaced, make sure you make a point of this on your application.

If you need any advice on replacing or repairing your listed building windows, our friendly team is here to help. With free advice and initial inspections, you’ve got nothing to loose by giving us a call.

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