Period properties’ PVCU planning permission put-off?

The preservation of original window features in listed buildings, and those within conservation areas, is closely monitored by local authorities – and planning regulations often stipulate the like-for-like repair, refurbishment or replacement of timber frames.

Once it was thought that only timber frames could achieve this appearance. But thanks to advancements in the design of PVCU windows, particularly vertical sliders, councils are slowly coming around to the idea of allowing alternative materials to be used.

Kevin O‘Neill from Rehau talks about a recent installation in a conservation area in Bristol which has set a precedent for the city:

There are currently 33 conservation areas in Bristol, each one with a special character and appearance that the local council aims to preserve or enhance for future generations. To the north west of the city is one such conversation area: Sneyd Park, a leafy suburb bordering the Downs. The area features an array of beautiful Victorian buildings, many of which have been divided into flats.

Four years ago, Sneyd Park resident Mr Hall approached local installation company Panoramic Windows about replacing the windows in his top floor flat. The period property had single glazed timber windows that were draughty and lost considerable amounts of heat, and due to the exposed position of the house by the Downs, the flat was very cold in the winter.

Mr Hall was keen to upgrade his windows to improve his comfort levels and reduce heating costs. He didn’t want wooden windows, but he hadn’t seen any PVCU windows that he liked either. The varying shapes of window in the property (angled, arched and square) further complicated the customer’s requirements.

Panoramic Windows invited Mr Hall to its showroom to see the company’s vertical sliders offer made by fabricator Roseview Windows, using Rehau Heritage profiles. Heritage sash window profiles have the sightlines of a traditional timber box sash window – in 42mm, 52mm and 62mm sashes – with a deep heritage bottom rail. The exteriors of the windows have putty-line aesthetics to enhance the authentic design, and the windows are available in a range of finishes.

The customer loved the Heritage profiles, and Rosewood Windows was confident it could make them to the unusual specification of Mr Hall’s property, ensuring the aesthetics of the building would be maintained. Therefore, an order was placed for 16 windows with a white woodgrain foil finish.

As the property was in a conservation area, Mr Hall applied for permission to replace his windows, which he thought would be approved within a few months. Unfortunately, it took much longer to get the planning application approved, as the local council and residents’ group were adamant that wooden replacements should be specified to maintain the character of the property.

The application was initially refused but approved on appeal after an independent inspector was satisfied that replacement PVCU windows would not adversely affect the appearance of the conservation area. In fact, he assured the council they would appear almost identical to the existing timber windows and advised them to see a sample window for themselves, which Panoramic was happy to provide.  

This installation is a lesson for future conservation area projects and reminds us that installers can be bold and offer PVCU alternatives, even where there are planning restrictions in place.

Rehau’s Heritage window system was developed in consultation with conservation bodies to smooth the planning process and offer the most authentic design and styling on the market. This way, period window features can be preserved and customers can have all the benefits of PVCU.