Coming in from the cold
Energy efficiency in period properties
A landmark case currently at London’s High Court, could throw an energy efficiency life-line to the owners of period and Listed properties not only in Hampshire but the rest of the UK.
Timothy Guinness, the owner of a Grade II Listed property in Ellisfield, has launched a legal challenge in the High Court to overturn a planning inspector decision to refuse him permission to fit double-glazed windows.
Inspectors from Basingstoke and Dean Borough Council through-out the request in September 2013 and his subsequent appeal arguing that double-glazed windows were too bulky. Mr Guinness has accused planners of ‘prejudice’.
Double and triple-glazed windows deliver significant energy savings and can make a big difference to the thermal efficiency of properties, particularly so on older homes where solid walls mean that cavity wall insulation isn’t an option.
But what is also clear is that the aesthetic has to be right. You don’t have to go very far to find unsympathetic and inappropriate early double-glazed installations. And with plenty of these crimes against architecture, never mind good taste, to choose from, you can understand why planners may be a little sceptical about letting some elements of the window industry ‘loose’ on period and heritage properties.
However, Mr Guinness’ point to the planners and to the High Court is a valid one – the innovation in the thermal efficiency of windows has been accompanied by an equal innovation in aesthetics.
Smart low-e coatings on glass - a one-way door for trapping and holding energy – and the use of warm-edge spacer bars which separate the sheets of glass in double and triple-glazed units to put ‘space’ between the cold air outside and warm air inside - have transformed the energy efficiency and performance of windows.
Aluminium and timber manufacturers offer a range of thermally efficient products. The PVC-U window industry –historically the worst offender - has committed multi-million pound investment in developing products which have with slimmer sight-lines and more sympathetic profiles, introducing a wide range of subtle colour choices and finishes.
At KJM we have also continued to invest in our product portfolio adding a number of new ranges, to make sure that we’re able to meet demand from the owners of heritage properties.
This has included the addition of the Beaumont range from Dempsey Dyer and Residence 9 which replicate flush casement and traditionally jointed windows in a low maintenance PVC-U window. We’re also able to supply an extensive range of Aluminium framed windows from Smart and SAPA and energy efficient and low maintenance wooden windows, again from Dempsey.
Mr Guinness is attempting to get permission to replace existing Crittall windows in his property, which dates back to the 16th Century but which was extensively extended in the 1930s, 1940s and 1960s, with new energy efficient double-glazed timber framed windows.
While I can’t comment on the specifics of the case or the appropriateness of the proposed replacements it is worth noting that Crittall windows weren’t manufactured until the late 19th Century.
Following the hearing in late November, the High Court Judge presiding over the case Neil Cameron QC reserved judgment because of the complexity and importance of the case and will write to Mr Guinness with his ruling.
Speaking in court Mr Guinness said: “I felt that by standing up and being counted I was doing my fellow countrymen a service, if it turned out that the courts could and would correct an error in law”. He said that the prejudice against double-glazing was perhaps understandable in the days of ‘frightful PVC windows’ but that ‘time had moved on’.
We can assure Mr Guinness and the planning inspectorate that it has.