Now this is a guest post I know everyone in the industry is going to be interested in. Many of us have been campaigning for PVC to be considered for listed buildings. With product improvements making such massive strides, the time is now right for PVC to be considered for the country’s oldest buildings. Mick Ramsden, author of the guest post below, explains how he won an order for PVC sash windows on a Grade 2 listed building:

We have just received listed building consent for our Grade II listed cottage to change the windows from wooden VS to UPVC VS.

I thought it may be useful to explain the process we went through to help any interested parties wanting to do similar for a listed building or building in a conservation area. I have been involved in the PVC industry for a number of years so I had a slight advantage knowing the market and also how much UPVC VS window systems have improved in recent years.

You do have to go through a full planning application which for Blackburn & Darwen Council means completing an application for “listed building consent for alterations, extensions or demolition of a listed building”. A crucial tip here is to speak to the Planning & Conservation Officer before you embark on the process. Explain what you want to do, invite them round to your house and above all BE PREPARED TO LISTEN TO THE OFFICER as they may give pointers to follow or early indication what grounds for refusal might be used.

At first the Planning Officer was cool but not completely cold to the proposal. But she did come round to have a look at the house. The mantra they use is that the significance of the listed building should not be harmed. Where I listened to what was said where the Planning Officer was not keen on the cruder detail of the jointing around the sash horns on a standard PVC VS window. Also I believed that a wood effect lamination was a must to replicate natural wood and get away from a “shiny” PVC finish.

The application process coincided with a visit by me to the FIT show. At the show I saw a fully mechanically jointed VS window (Genesis VS) shown by Bison Frames UK with run through sash horns. I thought this may overcome the concerns by the Planning Officer about the horn detail and that the mechanical jointing details generally mimic wooden window construction. I discussed this new window with the officer and she suggested I put my application in.

The application process is a little laborious and OTT (just for changing your windows). You require the following:

  • A completed listed building consent form
  • Front & rear elevation 1:50 drawings (I did manage to draw these myself)
  • Provide 1:1250 location plan of your house location (go on the English Heritage website for this)
  • Design statement
  • Heritage statement
  • Section drawing of selected PVC profile (Spectus in this case, available from their website)
  • Photos of the windows
  • Literature to back-up application – I scoured the internet to find examples of UPVC in listed buildings and conservation areas and received a letter from Bison Frames explaining the features and benefits of the Genesis VS window

I can provide any further information to any interested party but do your own research and ensure your supporting argument is pertinent to your situation. The Planning Officer visited again and I had sample Genesis VS windows to show her, including a comparison of a standard welded VS window against the mechanically jointed Genesis to highlight the difference the officer had picked out as a potential for rejection.

The quality of the Genesis VS window and similarity to wooden VS windows undoubtedly swung the decision as the application was passed for the reason it was not detrimental to the listed building status of the dwelling. I want to emphasise that all applications will be dealt with on their own merits. But more examples like this will increase the precedent of using UPVC in a listed building situation. Just ensure you listen to the potential objections by the Planning Officer and see if they can be addressed. Good luck.

Mick Ramsden