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
In the UK a listed building is one that has been placed on a register to protect it from wayward developments. This building is placed on the Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historical Interest, which means that any work likely to interfere with the structure or visage of the building, will need to be put through to the consideration of the planning system in order to discern what is in the best interest of the building itself.
These building are themselves split into 3 categories; Grade I, Grade II* and Grade II in the UK.
Though these differ slightly in Northern Ireland & Scotland where they are classified as Grade A, Grade B and Grade B1 & Grade A, Grade B and Grade C(S) respectively.
Only 2.5% of those in the UK are actually Grade I, which are structures of exceptional, and often international interest. Just 5.5% are of Grade II* status, which are deemed to be particularly important buildings. Whereas most buildings (92%) are Grade II, which are of special national interest and can often be owned as homes.
These buildings demonstrate the history of the country as expressed through architectural advances, or their historical context. Take Clifton Suspension Bridge designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel for instance, a Grade I listed structure which stands as the epitome of Britain’s industrial revolution, or Royal Festival Hall which was the first post war building to gain Grade I status, and you will see the grand scale we are talking about here.
Grade II* buildings include Battersea Power Station, Rise Hall and Coliseum Theatre, which demonstrates the diversity of the structures that are listed. With places such as Surbiton Rail Station and the BT Tower taking up third place as Grade II structures.
Unlike most people think, these buildings aren’t necessarily placed under a preservation order, which would prevent any kind of development upon the structure. It simply means that these buildings are to be celebrated for their cultural impact, and that any form of change to the building will have to be strongly considered within governmental planning guidance.
A symbol recognised globally, Battersea Power Station will at long last be redeveloped to become a new luxury hub on the south side of the river, which we are really very excited about seeing. At Hugo Carter we feel that the influence of modern technology on older buildings can be a really interesting combination. Also, where listed buildings of the past may have used materials that aren’t energy efficient, or may have been harmful to the environment, there is always scope to improve upon them with newer, more modern designs.
Tell us, what do you think? Is there a place for newer developments in traditional, listed buildings? Can modern technology help to improve already stunning structures, or will they take away from the integrity of the site?
Image by Clanger's England
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