Preston planning laws could see you needing legal ‘yes’ to replace your windows

It applies to areas within the city’s 11 conversation areas

Residents in parts of Preston are being reminded to check whether they need to get planning permission for new windows before having them installed.

Householders in four of the city’s 11 conservation areas require formal approval from Preston City Council if they want to replace their windows – and could later be ordered to rip them out if they are found not to have received it. The authority’s cabinet member for planning and regulation has told the Post that he would like to see window fitters operating in Preston take more responsibility for ensuring that the green light has been given for the work before they start on a job.

David Borrow said that the issue – specifically of UPVC frames being installed to replace traditional timber varieties – is one that causes “a lot of unhappiness” for those who fall foul of the fenestration rules. In the majority of Preston’s conservation areas – covering Ashton, Deepdale, Harris Children’s Home, Inglewhite, Market Place, Moor Park and Winckley Square – residents enjoy the same so-called “permitted development rights” as apply elsewhere in the city.

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That means that they can make small alterations to their properties – such as upgrading their windows and doors – without requiring planning permission. However, in four of the conservation zones – Avenham, Fishergate Hill, Fulwood and St Ignatius Square – a special order has been put in place which removes permitted development rights and requires approval even for minor modifications.

LancsLive understands that while that does not equate to an automatic ban on UPVC windows, the city council will use its discretion to control the extent of their spread in order to prevent them detracting from the character and appearance of the specially protected areas. The so-called “article 4 direction” is designed to avoid unsympathetic alterations to properties, which would not preserve or enhance their surrounding location.

“Often, owners don’t realise [the situation]. A salesperson will sell them some new windows – but [that firm] should know that they’re in a [particular] conservation area and that you need planning permission,” Cllr Borrow explained.

“We quite regularly get individuals who have had them installed and then somebody sees that they haven’t got that permission – so it causes a lot of unhappiness. Not all of the properties involved are expensive properties, either. We hope that people understand, because letters will have gone out [detailing the rules] and it will have been explained to people who buy houses [in these areas] – but some might not realise the implications.

“You’d like to think that most of the companies fitting windows would know [the areas where] you need planning permission – that is an obvious thing to understand if you’re selling windows in Preston,” Cllr Borrow said. The idea behind conservation areas is to help preserve features considered to be of architectural or historical value.

A recent meeting of the city council’s planning committee heard that the installation of UPVC windows was one of the main causes of complaint about breach of planning regulations in Preston. The outcomes of four enforcement notices served upon householders who had installed the frames without authorisation was reported to July’s meeting of Preston’s planning committee. Each had been ordered to replace their new windows with more traditional and in-keeping styles.

While the occupiers of three of the properties had complied, a fourth – in Fulwood – had not only failed to remedy their mistake, but had actually installed more UPVC windows since action was first taken against them five years ago. That case has now been reopened by town hall planners. The city authority has assessed the four locations where it has removed permitted development rights from residents as boasting examples of traditional craftsmanship.

In the Fulwood conservation area, in particular, it notes the “high standard of workmanship and materials, including timber sliding sash windows, bay windows, timber panelled doors with decorative glazing, decorative bargeboards, ornate chimneys and distinctive porch features”. Of those four conservation areas, the longest-established is Avenham – also the oldest of all 11 in the city – which came into force in 1974 and has since been extended three times, most recently in 2009.

St. Ignatius Square became a conservation area in 1982 – and was extended in 2007 – followed by Fishergate Hill in 1994 and Fulwood in 2008.

Preston planning complaints in numbers

Between 1st December, 2021 and 31st May, 2022, Preston City Council closed 202 planning complaint cases, covering all potential breaches of the rules, not just those related to conservation areas. Of that total:

  • 40% were found not to be a breach
  • 10% rectified the breach after it was highlighted
  • 34% were told that it was “not expedient” in the public interest to take formal action against them in spite of their breach
By

Paul FaulknerLocal democracy reporter
  • 05:20, 24 AUG 2022

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