Clearview South August 2013 - Issue 141 - Page 42

HERITAGE CLEARVIEW EXCLUSIVE Challenging perceptions Having spent 40+ years in the industry and with Masterframe windows celebrating 25 years making just sliding sash windows, it’s been an interesting time for managing director, Alan Burgess, to reflect on the changing attitudes towards Heritage properties, the material selection and construction methods used… “Planners get excited about heritage properties and rightly so, I’ve often said I don’t want anyone installing PVCu sash windows into Buckingham Palace or Houses of Parliament, million per cent wrong. The United Kingdom especially England, has exceptional buildings of significant architectural importance, they need constant restoration and preservation of original parts, so that later generations can touch history. English Heritage (EH) has a duty to preserve listed properties; this can only be done if original details are maintained, including material type. I find that local officers in conservation areas however, apply the same standards in non-listed properties within conservation areas when they have no right to. Whilst conservation officers may not like it, these properties are not important enough to be listed, hence it’s only the general appearance, opening style, design of product that needs to be sympathetic, not the material. By adopting the same stance as EH, wood is good, anything else is bad, and they leave themselves open for criticism and seen as anti PVCu. But can you blame them? The vast majority of the 44million sash windows in the country that have been replaced have been done with ali or PVC inserts, casements straight into the existing box frames, which DESTROY any aesthetic value the building may have had! Planners and conservation officers fear PVCu because for them it’s that casement mentality, lowest possible cost, zero appreciation for aesthetics, so all PVCu gets treated the same unless you have exceptional products, fitted correctly, which go unnoticed. I’m not against casements; there are thousands of great designs for them and areas where they are the most appropriate design, just not as replacements for sash windows. Over the past 6 years, councils have realised inappropriate styles have been fitted into buildings; their reply is to create vast swathes of article 4 listed properties, properties they wish to add protection for and expect to control the materials and styles of windows being installed. Trouble is many people don’t realise their property became article 4 listed and there is no central database of these properties. I have seen lots of new ideas become standard; take the 70s window for instance. Mitre cut, welded and grooved, although polished corners became fashionable for a time, owners soon worked out the scratching and polishing attracted dirt and quickly devalued their windows. Interestingly when Crittall introduced a PVCu sub frame into the GLC in the late 70s and Rehau introduced the first dedicated sliding sash in 1986, plastic HAD to be virgin material, no cheap profiles with regrind materials for them! Today, councils have done a 180 U-turn. Recycling is paramount and unless profiles are lead free WITH regrind material, then don’t bother! Under the town and country planning act, there are specific house or occupancy types that must have permission, most “normal dwellings” with no rental or commercial aspects to them, with one family in residence may avoid the guidance from them because it is only guidance, not mandatory. Obviously conservation officers still offer their preference, but that’s all it is, their preferred material choice, homeowners can sometimes carry on regardless (in the right circumstances) and ignore the guidance. However there are instances where councils are retrospectively issuing removal notices for inappropriate windows that have been installed without permission, so it is really important that installation companies understand their responsibilities when changing windows in listed buildings or conservation areas. To assist installers obtain the necessary permission for installations in sensitive areas, Masterframe employ the services of a planner. Standard letters drafted by him help companies present the right details so that conservation officers know that they cannot refuse permission. Now I know there are volume producers of sash windows today who churn out many hundreds of PVC sash windows but in our experience, very few retail customers want shiny white plastic; everyone wants a wood grained window, that they never need paint ever again. Planners now expect deep bottom rails, run through horns, external plant on Georgian bars, knobbly glass etc but above all windows fitted behind the external brickwork, not inserted into the existing frame or worst still, installed on the outside brickwork! Companies seeking to push their standard window won’t get far with planners, cheap bolt-on or hinged decorative horns won’t win them over, trying to convince planners about the “authentic” nature of PVCu sashes requires a degree of listening, then adapting standard products to fit their brief. Only then will companies stand any chance in this mark ЁܹѕəɅլ((()U()Qɕɔ٥ͥЁܹ٥ܵլ((0