Plastic threat’ to conservation

MODERN plastic-framed windows are believed to be threatening the character of conservation areas in Huntingdonshire. The increasing popularity of uPVC windows and doors is criticised in the district council s latest two conservation area management plans

MODERN plastic-framed windows are believed to be threatening the character of conservation areas in Huntingdonshire.

The increasing popularity of uPVC windows and doors is criticised in the district council's latest two conservation area management plans - covering Kimbolton and Offord Cluny - to be produced as part of a continuous review of more than 60 such areas in the district.

Although replacement windows do not normally need planning consent - though they may require listed building consent - planning authorities can take powers to control such developments in a conservation area, even for unlisted buildings, something that seems clearly to be in planners' minds.

HDC's cabinet will be asked tomorrow (Thursday) to approve the two draft plans for public consultation in the new year.


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The Offord document says: "Unfortunately, as with many of the UK's towns and villages, there are some properties within the Offord Cluny conservation area that have lost traditional elements.

"This problem is largely exacerbated by the rise in popularity of uPVC windows, which are sometimes of poor quality and design. The cumulative effect of these can prove highly detrimental to a conservation area."

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It says traditional features, such as timber sash and casement windows, panelled timer doors, traditional clay roofing tiles - in some cases thatch - and ornate bargeboards, contribute significantly to the character of the conservation area.

Planners could take control over the formation of new window or door openings, removal or replacement of any window or door, changes to roof materials and installation of roof lights to prevent further damage.

HDC's planning policy manager, Richard Probyn, said powers had to be taken by individual conservation area and now had to specify the changes for which planning consent was to be required, such as to doors or windows.

Thirteen buildings in the village are considered "at risk" - in poor condition and needing remedial work. "Dilapidated structures have a detrimental impact on conservation areas, as they detract from the setting of other properties, as well as having a wider impact on the street scene as a whole," the document says. "In addition to these visual implications, the cumulative effect of run-down properties can have negative social and economic implications."

Among suggested improvements are for dealing with Whitwell House outbuildings and the adjacent boundary wall, improving the under-used village hall car park and an area of land off The Cranny, and making more of the traffic island at the junction of Asplins Lane and the High Street.

Kimbolton has three listed buildings on the "at risk" register, but only one - Brothers House - is in the conservation area.

It is critical of inappropriate new development, citing a new development of three terraced houses that have been built off East Street as an example.

Suggestions for improvement include straightening the St Andrew's Lane street sign and fixing it properly to the churchyard railings, removing unauthorised stainless steel flues from part of Kimbolton School and repairing damaged pebble paving.

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