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Replacing Windows in a Conservation Area

Windows for Conservation areas

Replacing windows in a conservation area is normal practice but isn’t as straightforward as replacing windows outside of a conservation area. Windows contribute to the heritage of our built environment and they are a defining feature of a building, often described as its eyes! Getting things right can enhance your home, and this point of getting things right is important in conservation areas or in Listed buildings because in the worst case scenario you could end up being forced to remove new wndows because they were not appropriate for the conservation area.

What's a conservation area?

Conservation areas are there to protect the architectural and historical interest of our built environment. There has been a great deal of damage done to our historic buildings over the years from the Blitz to inappropriate work and "improvements" before protections such as Conservation Areas and Listed Buildings were introduced.

There are thousands of conservation areas throughout England. All local authoritys have at least one in it’s care. All Conservation Areas are subject to extra planning controls and considerations to protect the historical and architectural elements that define the designation of a Conservation area.

Flush Casement Window Conservation Area
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Why do we need conservation areas?

Take a look around where you live, the areas you pass through and the places you visit. You're going to find a rich tapestry of buildings with unique features that highlights their time and place in history. Without the protection of Conservation Areas and Listed Buildings our built environment would be vulerable to drastic change and a loss that would be hard to recover. Having the proper protections in place ensures we have a built environment that reflects our countrys history. 

The designation of a conservation area falls under ‘Article 4 Direction’. Local authorities are allowed to ‘withdraw specified permitted development rights across a defined area’. Take a look at the Government website about Article 4 Direction to find out more.

Glazing Bar Details
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Are Listed Buildings in Conservation Areas?

Just because a building is within a Conservation Area it doesn't necessarily mean it's Listed. Buildings are Listed on their own individual merits and can be found inside or outside Conservation Areas. Listed Buildings are either designated as Grade 1 buildings of exceptional interest. Grade 2* particularly important buildings of more than special interest. Or Grade 2 buildings that are of special interest, warranting every effort to preserve them.


Double Glazed Windows Conservation Area
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Will I Require Planning Permission for New Windows in a Conservation Area?

If in doubt it is always best to check with your local authority as each authority interprets and applies rules differently. Getting it wrong could be costly and mean you'll face having to redo work.

We find discussing the proposed project with your Local Conservation Officer is the best way to start. You may be required to provide photos, drawings and details of colour choice.

Some local authorities apply special control in conservation areas, specifically doors and windows. If your property is listed you will need to obtain listed building consent for the work.

Sash Windows Conservation Area
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Should I Just Repair my Windows?

A Local Authority may prefer a repair rather than replacement of windows, especially if the window is historically significant. Like-for-like repairs do not require planning permission. Completing repairs to a high standard is clearly a worthwhile venture and in some cases essential. However, if your windows have degraded beyond economical reapir or are inappropriate in terms of design and material a replacement could be your best option.

custom made hardwood window in Devon
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Can I Have Double Glaze Windows in a Conservation Area?

Unless innapropriate windows have been fitted it's likely your windows will be single glazed. As you can imagine, single glazed windows are less efficient than modern double glazed windows. Whether you can double glaze a window within a Consevation area will ultimately be down to the Local Authority and we strongly recommend you check with your Local Authority before moving forward. Double glazing can be integrated sympathetically into replacement windows using conventional Double glazing, Slim Double Glazing or Vacuum Glazing.

Wood Sash Windows Conservation Area
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Improved Windows In Conservation Areas

When windows are beyond repair, or replacement is necessary for other reasons there are many options available. You will be able to find companies that produce heritage stye windows from both timber and uPVC that have the potential to pass local planning authority guidelines.

When replacing windows in a conservation area it’s advisable to use a company, like us, that specialise in heritage windows. We are used to the process of getting plans passed, speaking with the local conservation officer, and our joinery is crafted for and in many cases tailor made for Listed Buildings, Conservation Areas and National Parks. Our experience adds value to your project.

One of the main improvements when replacing a historic windows is to integrate double glazing. For some situations, namely Listed Buildings it may not be appropriate, but a great deal of windows in Conservation areas can be double glazed. The benefits of reduced heat loss and reduced condensation are considerable. 

English Oak Joinery Devon
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What Wood is Best for Windows Frames in Conservation Areas?

Some windows on the market use plastic or inferior, cheap engineered softwood with no preservative treatment. Thankfully there are some excellent sustainable, South American varieties of hardwood which will extend the lifespan of your windows. There are also some modified timbers such as Accoya®  and thermally treated timber such as Abodo which will even further extend the service life of our carefully crafted windows.

Using a good quality timber is important. Using a good quality timber extends durability resisting insect and fungal attack.

Stability is important too. On less stable timbers, the constant contraction and expansion eventually leads to failure in the coating, allowing water to penetrate and accelerate the rate of damage and decay.

Our clients are welcome to visit our workshop and view our products and processes. We belive an open approach to what we do is important.


The key issues are to contact your Local Authority and find out if you require planning permission. Apply for planning permission well in advance. Find a reliable comapny with a reputation of quality work.

If you need help replacing windows in a conservation with high quality wooden versions, feel free to give us a call on 01769 572 134

Accoya Joinery Conservation Area
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