Tribunal backs DPA over historic windows

AN APPEAL to overturn a planning authority decision to refuse permission for PVCu windows to be installed in a Vale property has been rejected.

John Henry Sr at his home. After he put in an application to replace old windows with uPVC he was told that the property was going to be listed. (26605144)
John Henry Sr at his home. After he put in an application to replace old windows with uPVC he was told that the property was going to be listed. (26605144)

The appeal arose after John Henry and his wife Rosemary contacted the Development & Planning Authority for permission to replace the windows of their home.

The property was not a listed building at the time they made the application, but in the wake of their request the DPA decided to add the house to the protected buildings register.

As a result, permission to change the wooden windows to PVCu was refused.

Mr Henry’s son, also called John, accused the DPA of bullying his parents in the weeks prior to the listing request and said that it being added to the register was ‘nothing less than a retaliatory listing’ and it already had some PVCu windows while the doors were a mix of wooden and PVCu. In its judgment, the planning tribunal said that, in its opinion, the construction of the windows suggested that they dated from the early decades of the 19th century and were a good example of a high-quality, traditional rural house frontage.

The panel said that the replacement of the windows with PVCu would be ‘harmful to the special architectural and historical interest of the house’. Removing the windows would destroy important, authentic and historic features which it said appeared capable of retention and upgrading.

On top of that, ‘in our experience, even the best quality PVCu windows are unable to replicate the refined construction and slender dimensions that the existing timber sash windows possess, with the consequence that the quality of these important elements within the principal facade would be coarsened.’

However, given that the owner of the property was elderly, the panel believed that the DPA had ‘some obligation’ to lessen the burden that owning a protected building can impose by ‘providing constructive advice on the means by which the performance of the existing windows might be improved’.

Director of planning Jim Rowles had undertaken to make this advice available to Mr Henry.

A second issue considered by the panel was whether or not the proposed replacement windows would conserve or enhance the character and appearance of the conservation area.

In the panel’s opinion, PVCu windows would not only diminish the architectural quality of the house ‘but would also undermine the attractiveness of its traditional surroundings.

‘The consequence would be to harm the character and appearance of this part of the conservation area.’

Mr Henry had also considered appealing against the building’s listing, but this had been ruled out of time.

However, the panel said that in looking at the architectural and historical interest of the property for this appeal, it had not found anything to suggest that the DPA had departed from its ‘well-established and comprehensive principles of assessment’ in reaching its decision to add the property to the protected buildings register.

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