Guide to replacing sash windows in conservation areas

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Old flaky timber window with Georgian bars

If your house is listed or in a conservation area, there are restrictions to what structural and aesthetic changes you can make, including alterations to windows.

Sash windows are a common feature of many historical and listed buildings dating from the Georgian and Victorian eras. Most of these windows have existed for well over a century, but after a while some begin to look sad and shabby and in need of some love and attention. But do you need permission to replace your sash windows, or is it possible to repair them?

Planning permission for replacing windows in conservation areas

According to the English Heritage, windows and doors “make a major contribution to the character of traditional houses” and “should not generally be altered in their proportions or details”.

Conservation areas and listed properties exist to protect the historic and architectural nature of the property and you will need to check with your local authority to see if you need to ask for consent before making changes.

Also, property owners normally have ‘permitted development rights’ which allow them to make changes to a property without planning permission. However, some houses are also bound by ‘Article 4 Directions’, which restrict what changes you can freely make to a property without planning permission. Contact your local authority to find out whether you need planning permission to replace your windows.

Common requirements for replacement windows in conservation areas

To get the go ahead for replacement windows in listed buildings and conservation areas, new sash windows must meet certain requirements. Each case is different and will be judged individually, but some common requisites include:

  • Exact specifications of timber parts of frames (including depth of bottom rail, for example)
  • Exact replacement of either sash weights or spiral spring balances
  • Putty for single glazed panes or beading for slimline double glazing replacement
  • Glazing bars should match the original window design
  • Decorative sash window horns should replicate the original

It is very unlikely that uPVC windows will be allowed to replace traditional timber sash windows in listed buildings or conservation areas.

Can you repair timber sash windows in listed properties or conservation areas?

Where possible, traditional timber sash windows should be repaired, not replaced. When faced with sash windows that are rotting or simply painted shut, many people are tempted to replace the windows entirely, but you’d be surprised at how Wessex Restoration can repair even the most rotten, flaky or broken sash window.

Our highly skilled team of joiners and installation experts have many years’ experience in repairing or replacing timber products in heritage houses, although we specialise in sash windows. Each property is different and the work we carry out will depend on whether your house falls under Article 4 Directions from your local authority. We understand the intricacies of upgrading windows in period properties and we can offer you tailored solutions for your home.

In the unlikely event that your sash window is beyond repair, we can also replace timber sash windows with exact replicas for a draught-free, energy efficient and even slimline double glazed window.

Read more about our sash window replacement services or contact us to find out what we can do for you.