The world is a beautiful place that sadly is being gradually ruined by industry. Throughout the last hundred or so years, and since the Industrial Revolution, we have been slowly burning all the available energy rich substances we can find and massacring ancient forestry in order to make way for plantations and farmlands. As global demand is ever increasing, we need to look towards a more sustainable future on this planet.
One such way we have of ensuring that we do not destroy the planet for the sake of a profit is by creating conservation areas. These range from areas of natural beauty, including national parks and iconographic landscapes, to urban conservation areas such as historic town centres, country houses and 18-19th Century suburbs, which are protected by English Heritage.
Urban conservation areas are decreed to be areas of special architectural or historical importance, and cannot be built upon or destroyed. In the UK alone there are now over 9,600 designated conservation areas including such landmarks as Alexandra Palace and Park, Bank and Guildhall in London. Even performing alterations on your property in one of these areas, such as installing new windows and doors, must first pass through the Local Council in order to be approved. If you get the green light, they will give Article 4 directions to go ahead with your planned modifications, though you must keep within strict parameters. You are also restricted from cutting down trees without Council permission, and often many trees are considered to contribute to the character of the conservation area, and are therefore placed under a Tree Preservation Order.
The conservation of forests and natural areas of beauty is something close to our hearts at Hugo Carter, and is the reason why we plant a tree for every order placed with us. We believe that we cannot just take from the planet, but have a responsibility to give back. As such, every time one of our bespoke windows or doors is purchased, we plant a tree in the wonderful area of Bisham Woods. A nature reserve, deigned in the 1970s to be an area of ‘Biological Site of Special Scientific Interest’, Bisham Woods is also hailed to be the richest ancient woods in the whole of Berkshire.
According to the latest research by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), over half of the planet’s forest have been irreparably altered, destroyed or repurposed. What remains is itself subject to a plethora of misuses by those with no care for the effects they are having upon global environment. In keeping with this, we also strictly follow the legislation set out by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and source all of our materials responsibly, ensuring that all products are approved by the FSC. In order to ensure a brighter tomorrow, we must first shine the spot light on our time, and no longer hide in the shadows of ignorance.
Image by Didimendum1
Planning permission for restorations or additions to your property can be a real pain for a lot of developers and can spell disaster for the hopes and aspirations for home owners who are looking to really make their house their own.
However, it needn't be such a huge nuisance and if you follow this simple guide to achieving planning permission in the UK, you will find yourself with one less headache.
When do you need Planning Permission?
There are three factors to consider when figuring out whether you need to seek permission from your Local Planning Authority (LPA).
When you are building something entirely new.
When you are making major changes to your building, as with an extension for example.
When you are changing the use of your building (e.g. from a domicile to a commercial property).
All of these things will be differently interpreted by your LPA and contact details for this authority can be found here for full details on whether you will need it for your work.
Work undertaken on industrial premises do not normally require planning permission, though may fall under separate conditions. This also goes for demolition, though this will require separate approval from the LPA.
If your building project is specifically in benefit of the local community, it may also be able to forgo tradition routes and instead gain permission through Neighbourhood Planning or the Community Right to Build.
How do they access whether a building will achieve planning permission?
Your LPA will undertake a thorough investigation into the application, evaluating it on the following merits:
The size, layout, citing and appearance of the building.
Concerns surrounding infrastructure such as roads and energy and water supplies.
Why the development has been undertaking (e.g. to turn private property into a commercial property.
How the development will affect the local environment (e.g. changing views, traffic, etc.).
You can hope to achieve the results of your application within 8 weeks, but this can take as long as 13 weeks, so make sure to send your application off way in advance of any planned changes to your property to avoid disappointment.
Now you can even apply for planning permission online here which makes the whole ordeal a whole lot simpler.
A great deal of older buildings still have their original single glazing units intact which may suit the aesthetic of the property, but can be a real pain year round, especially in winter when you will be pouring money into heating your house only to have it float away with the winds.
The obvious solution is to install double glazing in order to cut down on your heating costs and stop those pesky draughts getting into your property.
However, this can be a real chore in conservation areas and listed buildings. So before you start thinking about getting some bespoke replacements manufactured, it's worth knowing about the bumps that you can face along the road.
Double Glazing in a Conservation Area
Undertaking work on your property in a conservation area requires that all plans go through the Local Authority for approval, which can be a tricky process indeed.
The thing about conservation areas is that they are named as such in order to protect the aesthetic, architectural or historical interest and uniqueness of a building or collection of buildings. Anything done to change their visage is a big no-no, and practically impossible to get around.
Changing the rear of the building (if generally unseen), can be fairly straight forward, but the front is a different matter altogether. Re-fittings of double glazed sash or casement windows need to exactly match the dimensions, design and finish of the current units, which can be a tricky task given that the inclusion of double glazing almost always makes the unit deeper and larger in order to support two panes of glass.
It's also worth noting that if your property stands alone, you are in with a better shout of getting approval, as it will not affect the general look of the neighbouring buildings if the window designs are slightly different. Getting double glazing installed in conservation areas where your property is part of a terrace or a flat within a larger property is even more difficult, though not entirely impossible.
Double Glazing in a Listed Building
This is a similar process to that of the conservation area, except that for listed buildings of Grade I and Grade II* status, English Heritage will have to get involved as well as the Local Authority. This makes the whole process an even larger headache, as English Heritage are even greater sticklers for detail.
That said, it's not impossible, but it will take a long time and you better be prepared for the long haul fight. You will need to submit technical drawings, application after application and go through negotiations with both the Heritage organisation and the Local Council in order to get approval.
Replacement window designs are scrutinised to the millimetre, and are thrown out if they don't submit to the existing windows dimensions.
So What Can You Do?
Well, you can try. The reality is that listed buildings and conservation areas are all well and good, but when they become unlivable due to energy costs and the cold, they cease to function as anything other than four walls and a roof.
The Local Authorities and English Heritage are becoming more acceptant of the fact that although cultural heritage needs to be preserved, modern living also needs to be taken into consideration.
Regarding the actual replacement designs, we at Hugo Carter use ultra-thin glass and smaller glazing bars in order to manufacture replacement windows that have been approved in the past – so it can definitely be done.
The other (far cheaper) option is to install secondary glazing within the property. These aren't, however, as effective at reducing noise pollution, increasing thermal insulation or reducing energy bills. They're also ugly, and whilst this can't be seen from the outside, it can be from within.
If you want to know any more – or have any questions about how Hugo Carter can help you with these issues, just get in touch! A member of our team will be glad to help.
Images by Roger Jones
Local Authorities are very strict on the ways in which you can enhance, or even repair properties in conversation areas. Requiring extensive planning permission, most buildings in these protected zones can get around the need for planning permission when they commission precise like-for-like replacement fittings when their windows are in need of repair, or upgrading.
Protected under Article 4, legislated in 1995, Local Authorities have the right to restrict you painting your house a different colour, changing any distinctive doors or windows, or other architectural details that may be representative of the building’s period or historical importance.
This boils down to even the most minute of details, from the exact size of the frames and its architraves to the mullions and drips. Only replacement frames that will exactly match are deemed acceptable, and there are only a few window fitting companies that are capable of replicating such windows.
Like For Like Windows
At Hugo Carter, we are one of the few; offering timber frame solutions to any of your conservation building needs. Our expert team will come to your property to evaluate the situation and discern what precisely the project will entail.
We will then return with a full team who will be responsible for collating all the measurements of the frames, the window panes, the architraves and sills. The same guys will also make a detailed list of all the small little details, mullions and drips, sashes and pulley systems taking extensive measurements and photographs to ensure that our design and development team have the precise details required to begin manufacturing your new windows.
Then we will set to work, sourcing the exact same materials to create the windows to the exacting measurements and functionality as the originals. It is also very important that the finished aesthetic is an exacting match, meaning that we will also source the precise colour and style of finish for your frames too.
We can, however, improve upon certain elements of the window’s designs, upgrading the glass used to give you more thermal insulation and noise reduction through the installation of our bespoke sash pulley systems.
Upgrading your windows to modern standards with like for like replacements in listed buildings and conservation areas can really add genuine value to a property, futureproofing them from repair and providing better energy efficiency with subsequent savings on your energy bills.
If you’re considering replacing your windows then please get in touch with us and we’d be happy to discuss it with you!
Image by Les Chatfield
More and more properties are being added to the list of conservation areas in the UK, with the cultural heritage of our country’s architecture becoming increasingly important as new cheap build permeate the landscape. As one of the very few manufacturers and installers in London, a lot of our clients approach us looking for bespoke windows that will work as replacements for their properties in conservation areas. It’s become second nature for us to now recreate window frames like-for-like, with some of our work even surpassing the unique hardwood windows that we manufacture ourselves.
In order to comply with the LPA, we need to take exact measurements of the frames and procure materials and finishes that will exactly match the architectural and aesthetic qualities of previous windows. This can be a long process, but one that, in the end, is extremely rewarding, especially as a lot of our clients come to us worried that they will never be able to upgrade their windows in a conservation area due to the council’s restrictions.
We’ve recently partnered with a property development company who were finding it a massive headache having to consistently get a company which would be able to replace windows in conservation areas. It’s now our privilege to get involved in all of these projects, with our design and tech staff enthusiastic to have the challenges of bringing the ornate and impressive window designs of the past into the modern age.
From installing brand spanking new vacuum insulated windows, which can offer the same depth as some single glazed sash and casement frames, to the simple repair of hardwood window frames which have been damaged through years of use, it’s an exciting and rewarding task to rejuvenate part of history.
It’s also a great benefit for our clients to update windows in conservation area buildings as a lot of past designs didn’t really take into consideration eco-friendliness or efficiency. What we can do now with advances in design, treatments of the wood and the glass is truly remarkable and not only helps with insulation and noise reduction, but from a property development and resellers standpoint, it adds a great deal of value to the property too.
If you’d like to know more about replacing windows in a conservation area, check out our window replacement page for conservation areas.
Image by David Hawgood