Our Town Planning Advisor has just won a planning appeal for a Bygone Preferred Installer that supports the replacement of original sash windows on condition that the replacements are “Bygone Symphony uPVC double glazed sash units”. The property is in a Conservation Area protected by Article 4(2), and the Planning Inspector’s decision goes on to include clear recognition of:
- the special features of the Bygone Symphony window and how these would match the originals in this case
- the care taken in the (planning) application to ensure the replacements windows would closely mimic the detailed appearance of the originals
- the high “standard of the proposed replacements windows (that) would far exceed most , if not all, of those that are seen on other properties along both sides of (the) Street”,
- and rejects the “overly prescriptive” approach of the Council to protecting the original box sash as historic fabric without support in planning policy.
Our Advisor tells us about the case and how he secured approval for the Bygone Preferred Installer. Similar expertise and support is available to you via our network of installers.
In the spring of 2014 a Hampshire borough council refused planning permission for a BPI’s planning application for replacement uPVC windows in a Victorian terraced property within a Conservation Area (CA) protected by Article 4(2) (that requires that any replacement windows the front of the property be approved by the council).
I was approached by Masterframe Ltd to advise the BPI on whether to appeal against the refusal notice.
This was only a modest cottage but the local council was consistently resisting replacement windows in a way the BPI considered both unfair and unreasonable. It appeared that many properties in this CA had already had their windows replaced over the years with a variety of poor quality replacements, and more generally, the council was demanding that the ‘historic fabric’ in the host properties should be protected, and that the only replacement windows that would be contemplated would be bespoke single glazed (to avoid the ‘double reflection effect’) wooden framed replicas.
The Council relied heavily on two previous planning appeal decisions in the same CA in support their stance.
I advised the BPI against appealing on the basis that the Inspector could only consider the original proposal; in my opinion a higher specification Bygone Symphony (with slim meeting rail) and a more sympathetic installation into the window recess (minimising the width of sash box exposed) was necessary to achieve an authentic appearance that would bare close scrutiny in these terraced properties, that sat virtually on the back edge of pavement with tiny ‘front gardens’.
We could put together a new specification, new drawings and planning application with a Design and Access Statement that addressed the significance of the remaining original joinery to the historic character and appearance of the street. Also we would challenge the Council’s prescriptive insistence on protecting ‘historic fabric’; while this might be legitimate in a Listed Building, this was a Conservation Area where it is the historic appearance and character of the area that is crucial rather than the historic fabric of an individual building.
The Conservation Officer’s stance was not supported by Local Plan policies and was inconsistent with the national planning policies of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). I considered that there was a reasonable prospect that the Council would approve such a revised scheme, and if not, that a planning appeal on the new scheme would stand a far better prospect of success than the original.
New planning application and appeal made
Given the prospect of winning approval for this job and potentially opening up many other opportunities in the area, the installer agreed to fund the appeal and we worked together on the case.
Unfortunately the Conservation Officer at the council could not be persuaded and indeed chose to see this as a ‘test case’, and so the new application was refused in June and a planning appeal lodged. Sadly, case loads at the Planning Inspectorate meant that the wait for the Inspector’s decision was unusually long but has just now been received.
The planning appeal decision
The appeal decision has achieved exactly what we wanted.
The planning permission given by the Inspector is conditional on use of the “Bygone Symphony PVC-U double-glazed sash units (which) and shall sit within the original window recesses and shall employ white foil finish”.
The decision letter contains many really useful references to the qualities of the Bygone Symphony noting how the design will “closely mimic the detailed appearance of the originals”.
The Inspector specifically refers to the “noticeably slim proportions” and the use of “butt joints rather than diagonal welds”, “run- through” horns and “external glazing bars with spacer bars” to give “an appropriately solid appearance”.
The Inspector notes the use of “white wood foil finish with a painted grain effect, with no evidence to support the Council’s view that this would be unacceptably uniform or shiny”.
The Inspector states that his “overall assessment (is) that the standard of the proposed replacement windows would far exceed most, if not all, of those that are seen on other properties along both sides of (the) Street”.
He also considers “that the double reflection effect would not be obvious or harmful to the areas’ special character”.
The Inspector compares the proposal to the previous appeal decisions the Council rely on where the replacements were considered ‘alien’ or ‘unacceptably inconsistent’ with the historic character and appearance of the area.
The Inspector found that “in this case the windows would not noticeably alter the established character and appearance of the host property”, and that it follows that the “character and appearance of the Conservation Area would be conserved and there would be no harm to the area’s significance as a heritage asset and no conflict with the NPPF”.
He specifically found “no policy support for the overly prescriptive approach given within the Council Officer’s report, which specifically identifies the appeal property’s original sash windows as historic fabric that should be retained or else only replaced with exact copies if the windows are beyond repair”.
This report supports many of the opinions and observations I have been consistently making in this and other masterframe columns. Similar expertise, advice and support for all Bygone Preferred installers is available through Masterframe themselves.
Michael Thornton MRTPI
Merit Thornton Planning Ltd
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