The repair or replacement of windows in listed buildings is not straight forward and a number of factors must be considered before permission will be given to make any changes.
A listed building is a building designated as being of special architectural, historical or cultural significance. Certain alterations to listed buildings are protected under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990. This legislation covers alterations to both the interior and the exterior of the building. (It also applies to any structure within its curtilage dating from before 1st July 1948.)
Anyone carrying out unauthorised works to a listed building could face prosecution and all work undertaken without consent would have to be reinstated.
Nevertheless, even though a property has listed building status you can still make some changes to it. However, you may be subject to certain restrictions on what you can, and cannot do, depending on the property and the changes actually proposed.
Repairing or replacing windows
If you have a problem with a window in a listed building that needs repair or replacement you may be in a hurry to tackle that problem.
As a very general rule, if you are repairing traditional windows with original materials you MAY not require Listed Building Consent.
However, because window repairs or replacement is covered by the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 and altering a listed building without listed building consent is a criminal offence, it is vital that you consult with your local authority Planning Department before undertaking any work.
If permission is granted to replace windows it is likely that replacements must match the originals in terms of appearance and material. (The rules may be different if the windows that are being replaced are of a modern design.) Therefore, due to the complexities involved you should always seek guidance from your Local Authority.
The role of the Local Authority
The Local Authority Conservation Officer will be able to look at your proposals and will be able to say if consent will be needed. While consulting with your Conservation Officer may be inconvenient, this extra step is vital as it saves you the time and expense involved in an making an unsuccessful application or going to court if you failed to obtain consent before undertaking any work.
If your conservation officer believes that listed building consent is required from your local authority, they will recommend that you make your application using the government’s Planning Portal – for listed properties. You are advised to consult with your Local Authority Planning Department even if you plan to replace modern windows with windows that are more in fitting with the age and design of your property.
Local Authorities will consider a wide range of factors before deciding if it would be more appropriate for the windows to be repaired or replaced. Generally, Local Authorities do have a preference for repair rather than replacement. This is perfectly understandable because they wish to maintain the character of the property, which is, after all, why the building was listed in the first place. However, repairing windows that have suffered a high degree of degradation may not be viable and leaving them in a distressed state could lead to damp and water penetration. In those cases planning officers are aware that sympathetic replacement, rather than repair, may be the most appropriate course of action.