Letter: Plastic windows on a listed building

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your leading article (24 August) draws welcome attention to our nonsensical listed building legislation. My home is a mid-19th century former railway crossing house, which was derelict when I acquired it in the 1970s. In making it habitable I retained the original windows but did not attempt an authentic restoration. When it proved necessary to replace the cast-iron guttering I did so with modern plastic and, because the external brickwork was in a poor condition, I decided to paint it. A flat roofed single storey extension was also added.

In 1987 a letter arrived from the local authority stating that my house had been declared a listed building and that any future alterations or extensions would require Listed Building Consent. As its character had already been substantially changed, their decision to list the building seemed to be based solely on the fact that I had done it up nicely.

In 1991, when I wanted to add a conservatory, my original design was rejected because of the proposed 'use of non-traditional materials'.

At least when the conservatory was eventually built I didn't have to pay any VAT. Only repairs and maintenance on Listed Buildings carry VAT. Alterations are exempt. How silly can you get.

Yours faithfully,

ANDREW BAKER

Barmby Moor, York

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