Conservation Area Rules For Windows

March 29th, 2022

Hugo Carter has a huge amount of experience to share gained through helping homeowners navigate the rules around upgrading your windows in Local Authority Conservation Areas. Set up to protect historic environments across the UK, Conservation Areas allow local planning authorities to act when an area or region is identified to have particular architectural or historic merit.

Legislation, known as Article 4 Directions allow the control of a whole range of an area’s features – from street furniture to TV aerials – to protect its unique character for future generations.

As a result of living in a Conservation Area, getting window replacements, at least at the front of a property, can prove a challenge for homeowners. New frames, especially uPVC ones, and double glazing are generally forbidden. This means replacing windows in a conversation area to gain modern soundproof performance, for example, often requires timber frames and specialist engineering to keep everything sympathetic to your building’s original qualities.

If that sounds like a challenge, you can relax. Hugo Carter can help every step of the way. Changing windows in a conservation area needn’t be a headache.

The Benefits Of Living In A Conservation Area

It is, of course, a shame to focus on the negatives.

Living in a Conservation Area comes with many advantages too!

The most obvious is homes within them, because of the protections enshrined in law, tend to retain their value over other properties. Indeed, The London School of Economics and Historic England combined to undertake research in 2012 that demonstrated houses in conservation areas sell at a premium of almost 10% – even during economic downturns.

Conservation areas are, by definition, normally pleasant places to live from historic market towns and architecturally impressive city centres to sleepy rural villages and coastal idylls.

Rather than curtail homeowners’ quality of life, the restrictions that are in place to preserve the appearance of properties and their surrounding areas mean it is protected.

Most residents seem happy to live with extra responsibilities that come in return. This includes spending a bit of time and effort getting planning permission for a new window.

What Changes Can Be Made To Windows (And What Can’t) Under Conservation Area Restrictions

Do you need planning permission to change windows in a Conservation Area?

Yes, is the simple answer.

You need permission to change, alter or replace windows in your property’s facade or any area seen from the street.

As a general rule of thumb, Local Authorities prefer old windows to be kept and repaired like-for-like rather than replaced.

Any new windows, double glazing and uPVC windows in conservation areas are typically problematic when it comes to planning permission because they are deemed to detract from the unique characteristics of an older property.

This does mean, however, that homeowners can miss out on modern performance. Historic windows are typically single glazed.

sound proof glazing

In the ‘good old days’ reducing the impact of outside noise and saving on heating bills were less of a concern.

The good news is, through talking with the experts at Hugo Carter, you needn’t live in a property you’re not happy with. You can combine the best of 21st Century engineering with windows that work within Local Authority Conservation Area guidelines.

What Do The Guidelines Say?

The rules that make any Conservation Area possible under Scottish and English Law are known as Article 4 Directions. They are made by your Local Planning Authority to restrict the scope of permitted development rights either in relation to a particular area or site.

Essentially, if there’s an Article 4 Direction in place in the area where you live, you do not have the same rights as a ‘normal’ homeowner.

A planning application will be required for some development activities, such as new windows, that would otherwise be permitted unchallenged.

Article 4 directions are ‘used to control works that could threaten the character of an area of acknowledged importance, such as a conservation area.’

You should know if your property is affected by an Article 4 Direction through its documentation, but it is worth checking with your local planning authority before planning any works just in case.

They will also be able to tell you what the guidelines in your area specify. Depending on the Conservation Area, they are likely to control windows, front doors, brickwork, TV aerials, roof tiling and other key aesthetic features of your property – not to mention wider paving, street furniture, shop fronts and so on.

Why Should You Always Consult With An Expert

Gaining Conservation Area consent for window replacement is a specialist task.

Planning rules can seem Draconian, but they are not impenetrable. Whatsmore, despite their reputation, planning authorities do generally want to appear helpful and considerate. Conservation Areas depend, to a large degree, on a sense of partnership and goodwill.

It helps to avoid obvious mistakes. Plastic windows in Conservation Areas are never going to be OK, for example. Modern double glazing is also always going to look out of place sadly.

The secret is to propose well thought out, expertly crafted sympathetic solutions to the planning authorities. It is here that talking to the experts proves most valuable.

Hugo Carter has helped hundreds of homeowners keep their homes warm, reduce outside noise and improve family life without falling foul of planning regulations. Living in a Conservation Area needn’t mean living in the past.

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Windows While Still Adhering To Conservation Area Rules

Given the challenge of installing modern windows in Conservation Areas, we typically recommend our timber framed sash and casement windows. These can be made to fit your existing home style and fitted with millimetre precision.

However, even with our expertise, there is no guarantee these will be approved.

This is why, at Hugo Carter, we also provide secondary windows. These are robust, easy on the eye and far superior in terms of the improvements in noise reduction and energy efficiency delivered than other forms of additional glazing.

Our secondary windows are constructed using a timber frame and double or triple glazed acoustic glass.

Replacement Double Glazing in a Conservation Area

As a result, Hugo Carter secondary windows offer huge benefits in terms of the amount of noise allowed into the property through your windows, while our expert fitting technicians ensure a significant reduction in the amount of heat that escapes too. You will notice the difference in your energy bills.

This means, even if the Conservation Area rules don’t let you have the dream window you desire, a secondary window delivered by Hugo Carter, will always fit the bill.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I replace windows in a conservation area?

Yes, but it is rarely straightforward. You will have to jump through some planning authority hoops to gain approval. Don’t worry, Hugo Carter specialise in providing 21st Century windows to historic and protected properties like yours.

What windows can I have in a conservation area?

Local Authorities prefer like-for-like repair to new windows in homes sitting within Conservation Areas. This can mean missing out on modern performance though so we have developed a range of high-quality timber-framed options specifically for homes like yours.

Can I put double glazed windows in a conservation area?

It’s rare for a local authority to approve of modern double glazing within conservation area rules. It’s more likely for a specialist product such as a made-to-measure timber replacement window or a secondary window to be approved.

Can I change the Colour of my windows in a conservation area?

It’s unlikely to be approved if the facade of your property, or any aspect visible from the street, is protected in a Conservation Area. Local Authorities will probably request a like-for-like repair or, if you speak to a specialist supplier like us, a like-for-like replacement.

Can I change my windows without planning permission?

Ignoring Conservation Area rules is against the law. Demolishing protected properties has led to prison sentences in some cases. That may prove extreme in the case of windows in your home but legislation can mean fines, legal bills and the expense of having non-compliant work re-done.

What do you need permission for in a conservation area?

The requirements in your area will be outlined in the Article 4 Direction held by your Local Planning Authority.

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