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Features ALTERATIONS TO WINDOWS IN LISTED BUILDINGS


if other substantial alterations are permitted. For example, when former churches are converted, planning departments and developers alike will usually want to maintain the character of the building by retaining stained glass windows. If they have to be removed during the course of other alterations and then replaced, this is a substantial and specialist job.


Legal complications In the context of residential blocks, the key legal question is who is responsible for maintenance and replacement of the windows themselves. There are commonly two possibilities:


The landlord is responsible


In this case, the landlord (either a private landlord, RTM or freehold management company) may instigate a window replacement project if there are compelling economic grounds to do so. When windows are beyond repair, it is the landlord's responsibility to implement the design and installation of the new/replacement windows.


In some cases (although rarely for listed buildings), the planning authority may prohibit partial window replacement works unless a like for like replacement is used. This will influence the choice of replacement window system and in some cases require a landlord to replace all windows at the same time, even if only a proportion of the windows are beyond repair and require replacement. The planning authority may therefore have a significant influence on the timing and extent of the window replacement works.


In the case of listed buildings, if a landlord intends to replace all windows at the same time, they will be required to demonstrate the compelling grounds to do so. It is not likely that the planning authority will permit the replacement of historic windows on merely economic grounds, such as economies of scale, reducing ongoing maintenance and scaffolding costs. Instead, it will require evidence that the windows cannot be repaired.


The leaseholder is responsible


In this case, the landlord may not be able to instigate a window replacement project, but individual leaseholders can replace their own windows. Leaseholders can do so at different times as long as they conform to the window policy for the building. In this case, the landlord may need to issue a Licence to Alter, as the new windows would constitute external alterations that are often prohibited under a lease without landlord's consent. In this scenario, the landlord may also prepare and circulate a Window Replacement Policy – a document that sets out the technical requirements that the leaseholder will need to comply with when implementing individual replacement works (for example design style, use of scaffolding, security, preferred window


52 Planning authorities may only permit replacement where windows are beyond repair


installers, making good external brickwork). In some cases, the landlord may assist with implementing a larger window replacement project with the collective of leaseholders that intend on replacing their windows, perhaps during a cycle of external major works (for which the landlord would usually remain responsible).


In a typical building, 70% of leaseholders may request change and 60% of them may agree on the preferred outcome. One leaseholder who doesn't agree to change their windows can ensure that the building will have at least one window that looks out of sync with the rest. It is also possible that leaseholders will insist on work being carried out by their own contractors over different periods of time.


Again, in the case of listed buildings, difficulties can occur where the planning authority will only permit the replacement of windows that are beyond repair. In this scenario, the responsibility for preparing and submitting an application may be best placed on the leaseholder undertaking the works - the landlord can rest safe in the knowledge that the planning authority will control the design and quality of the work. It is unlikely that planning/listed building consent will be provided for partial window replacement works, particularly where the new/replacement windows will differ in appearance.


In some cases it is unclear where ownership of the windows lies and legal interpretation is required. Things are complicated further by the fact that the landlord is responsible for


scaffolding and windows in communal areas even when the leaseholder has responsibility for the windows themselves.


Some serious issues can result even when the landlord remains in complete control. For example, we have worked on one case in central London, where two identical neighbouring buildings, built as a pair, were owned by different landlords, each with conflicting views on the type of windows they should choose!


Statutory controls Window replacement works are covered by various statutory controls.


Listed building consent


In the case of listed buildings, whoever has responsibility for windows will also need listed building consent from the local authority's planning department before making any changes that will affect the special interest of the building in question. This is in addition to the planning permission itself and conservation area consent, if required for the proposed work.


Applications for listed building consent or conservation area and planning consent should be made and considered together, since the same heritage conservation considerations will apply. The government's policy for the historic environment on deciding all such consent and permissions is set out in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). The framework does not distinguish between the type of application being made and it is


Issue 20


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