energy efficient windows

What restrictions do I need to consider when choosing my windows for a listed property?

Your windows are central to the character of your home and replacing them using a different style or material may have a negative impact on the appearance of your building, especially in the eyes of the planning authority. 

Where possible, you should aim to repair or refurbish the windows in a listed or conservation area building – retaining the original features is always preferable. 

However, if you are unable to do this and need to replace your old windows as part of a re-build or extension, then there are some restrictions that you need to be aware of.

In this blog, we’ll look at the restrictions that you might face when replacing windows in a listed or conservation area building, and how you can navigate these limitations to get the most from your windows. 

What things should you consider when replacing windows in listed buildings or conservation areas?

If your windows have deteriorated to the extent that repair is no longer viable, then your replacement windows should replicate, as far as possible, the original window.

When considering repairing or replacing timber windows, you should always consult a professional who has experience of working on historic buildings. 

However, here are the things that you need to consider when it comes to windows:

  1. Do you need planning permission for new windows?
  2. What types of windows can you install in a listed building?
  3. What materials can you use in new windows for listed buildings?
  4. Can you install double glazing in listed buildings?

1. Do you need planning permission for new windows?

If you plan on replacing your windows, then you will need planning permission if you home falls into one of the following categories:

  • within a conservation area
  • any listed building (including tenements or flats)

What is permitted via planning permission will depend on which listed category the building falls into, so it’s worth checking before you take the step to replace any buildings. You can search for listed building on the Historic Environment Scotland website – click here for more information.

While changes to the windows in one building may not seem like that big a deal, it will affect the uniformity of the entire area. So you must make sure that the new windows retain the nature of the originals. 

The planning department will consider whether your application protects and enhances the traditional character and appearance of the building or else your planning won’t be accepted.

You may also need a building warrant, but this is something that can be checked via your architectural team before the project begins.

2. What types of windows can you install in listed buildings?

There are a number of different styles of windows that can normally be installed in a property. However, as mentioned before, you need to match the character and appearance of the original windows when they are being replaced – this includes the style of window. 

So, if you are replacing the windows in a listed or conservation buildings then you’ll be limited when it comes to styles.

Most traditional properties will have windows, in one of the following styles:

  • Sash & Case windows
  • Bay windows

The style of these will need to be replicated with the new windows and fitted on the same plane as the original windows. 

It is also important to ensure that the new windows open the same way as the original window i.e. – sash windows which slide up and down.

Related content: Window Styles; a guide to the most popular

3. What materials can new windows be made of in listed buildings?

The materials used in replacement windows need to be sympathetic to the character and authenticity of the original building.

Modern materials such as uPVC are not usually accepted as a replacement material for windows in a listed or traditional building as it is not an accurate representation of the historical building, and is therefore not viewed as aesthetically appropriate. 

The windows replacements in listed buildings or conservation areas will have to use the same material used in the original building in order to have planning accepted. 

Related content: Windows: What is the best window frame material?

4. Can you install double glazing in listed buildings?

Double glazing is often thought of as the obvious solution when replacing historic windows, however, it is not always appropriate.

It can be aesthetically disruptive to the original features and character of the building due to the thickness of the glazing unit itself. Plus, it may not actually be a cost effective way of improving the energy efficiency of the building. 

The planning authority may allow you to fit double glazing to existing windows, but this may have to be a heritage style double glazed unit which can often cost a bit more than standard double glazed units.

If you are looking to install double glazed windows then it is something that you should discuss with your architectural team in order to gain the appropriate permissions. 

How to make sure you fit the right windows for your property?

While replacing your window with something a little more modern, might not seem like that much of a change to your existing building, it can have an impact on the overall character of you building and those around them.

For this reason, replacing your windows in a conservation or listed building has some restrictions attached to it. 

The most important thing to remember is that if you replace the windows in a listed or conservation area window, then you must retain the features and characteristics of the original windows. 

The best thing to do is to speak to your architectural team before making any changes to your original windows and get guidance on the planning permission. 

If you need help with your building or extension project, including your windows then please get in touch with us and see how we can help. 

Related content: Extensions: How to choose the right windows