Letter: A window on listed buildings

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The Independent Online
From Mr Peter Lord

Sir: My village house, in a conservation area, was built in about 1830 grafted alongside an older single-storey cottage now serving as a granny annexe. The cottage was used as a studio in the 1930s by the then owners who replaced the tiny wooden casement on the north wall with a huge domed Crittall metal window some three square metres in size.

My house was listed in 1986, shortly after I bought it. By this time the metal window had rusted beyond repair and was in any case much too large for what was now a bedroom. Wishing to restore the original small wooden cottage casement, I approached the planners and was told I needed planning and listed building consent, with permission to change from metal to wooden construction.

I was also told that, "in the context of a listed building" I must reproduce the dimensions and pane sizes of the previous Crittall window (notwithstanding that it had been installed in 1934), a procedure quoted at some £875 as against £150 for a wooden casement.

It took weeks of correspondence and two visits to the planners to explain that I was replacing a totally inappropriate "new" decayed window with an appropriate, though reproduction "old", window. Only when I enquired whether I could be represented by Counsel when I appealed, I was told "it ought not come to that", followed by swift capitulation.

At no time did any official come to inspect the premises, or they would have seen that the window in question was at the back of the premises overlooking village allotments and inconspicuous to the general public.

Yours faithfully,

F. E. P. LORD

West Wittering, West Sussex

13 March

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