English Heritage Contravenes Government’s Own Homes Policy

Whilst the introduction of the Government’s Green Deal may offer tax cut incentives to thermally efficient homes, many Conservation Officers under English Heritage guidance stand resolutely defiant against many listed properties and those in Conservation areas being sensibly renovated to reduce CO2 emissions demanded by Government targets.

Ignoring every green initiative endorsed by everyone active against global warming, English Heritage and Conservation Officers across the country have a head-in-the-sand position which is not only diametrically opposite to every known building improvement criteria but also forces further damage into the property fabric they are claiming to protect.

Everyone agrees that retaining correct aesthetics is the key to preservation of the nation’s architectural heritage but period replacement windows and doors that are thermally efficient and virtually indistinguishable from originals, with elegant and traditional sightlines, should be mandated.

“English Heritage and Conservation Officers do a fantastic job but it is widely agreed they need to embrace today’s high performance materials,” says Chris Wood, Sales and Marketing Director, Mumford & Wood Ltd. “Timber is a naturally renewable material which allows specialist manufacturers to combine historical proportions and sections while meeting today’s energy and acoustic standards. If the Conservation lobby does not alter its approach, I fear it will lose the right to enforce strict rules where they are required, and guide us more generally where necessary to preserve an overall-areas appearance.”

Properties with single glazed windows and ill-fitting doors can be a misery for owners and outweigh the pleasure of living in an aesthetically beautiful Georgian, Victorian or Edwardian property. The need to upgrade these properties as demanded by Government policies should be high on the agenda for the comfort of their occupants as well as to contribute to the UK’s targets of an 80% reduction of UK carbon emissions by 2050 (over 1990 levels.) To meet these targets domestic emissions from residential buildings need to be cut by almost 30% over the next decade.

Retrofitting with historically detailed performance timber windows is surely the best remedial solution and in most cases replacement of inefficient windows with thermally and acoustically efficient products will make a substantial contribution to the overall target reductions while reducing energy consumption, noise pollution and costs. However, what appears to be a perfectly sound moral decision is hampered by Conservation Officers and organisations such as English Heritage who simply refuse to follow logic.

“It beggars belief that preventing period property owners, and those situated in Conservation areas, from achieving greater levels of comfort and security with sympathetic replacements is allowed to happen,” says Chris Wood. “This is in total contravention to Government legislation and the goals to reduce CO2 emissions but there seems to be double standards here.”

As a specialist manufacturer of energy efficient, premium quality timber windows and doors, Mumford & Wood is widely recognised for the ability to design intelligently detailed windows to meet any period of property. The company can claim total compliance with Part L Building Regulations as far ahead as 2013 with BSI ‘A-C’ energy rated products that offer an overall U-value of 1.4 W/m².K depending on specification for Conservation™ sliding sashes, casements, French doorsets and entrance doors. Bespoke Conservation™ products incorporate modern performance while maintaining elegant and traditional sightlines.

The company goes a long way to help and advise customers who find themselves in such unfortunate circumstances. A potential customer and property owner who has recently lost her fight in the goal to improve her property in Brentwood, Essex, said: “After all the helpful effort by Mumford & Wood to campaign on my behalf to achieve the approval needed to upgrade my windows, it appears that I cannot proceed. All I wish to do is improve the thermal quality of my home and improve noise control. What a ridiculous scenario when we are constantly told to save energy and encouraged to improve quality of life which traffic noise impacts upon.”

The construction industry has long argued that generous financial incentives will be required to encourage people to take advantage of the loans offered through the Green Deal scheme if the Government is to meet its goal of upgrading 14m homes and offices in the next decade. Incentives could include stamp duty tax breaks for energy efficient homes in a move designed to encourage take up of these flagship initiatives. Improvements would include better insulation, double glazing and efficient boilers, while potentially imposing penalties on the most inefficient homes which, through no fault of their owners, could very likely be properties in Conservation areas, dogged with restricted consent, and of course Listed properties.

Where would this place a purchaser of a listed property or that in a Conservation area, which may be failing in many respects, and who wants to become custodian of the preservation and protection of our heritage buildings? Why should this owner be penalised by “Hard lined Conservationists” to the detriment of many important buildings and the under performance of Britain’s decaying housing stock?

“Conservation organisations should conform to sensible, national guidelines that allow replacement within a framework of tolerances,” continues Chris Wood, “and not leave it to the personal discretion of an individual to make an ill-informed decision. English Heritage should work within the confines of historically important buildings and not dictate to ordinary period property owners who want only to sensitively improve their home.”

Talk the problem over with Chris Wood, Mumford & Wood Ltd., 01621 8181 55 or email chrisw@mumfordwood.com. More product information can be found on www.mumfordwood.com or request a copy of the new brochure by email on: brochure@mumfordwood.com.

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