If you own a listed building, you will be aware of the challenges that can come with wanting to make improvements to the property. Modernising the windows is no exception. This is because windows count as original features that are protected by Grade II Listed Building restrictions. However, these restrictions don’t change the fact that window replacements in older properties are still necessary. In fact, their age is likely to mean that they are more likely to need improvements to help contend with noise pollution and meet energy efficiency standards.

It is possible to change the windows on a Grade II listed building. However, you will need to seek planning permission from your local planning authority before you commence any works. The same rules apply to anyone wanting to replace windows in a conservation area.

Luckily, you are in the right hands with Parsons Joinery. Our wealth of knowledge and reputation for helping customers get planning permission for windows in historic properties proceeds us:

  • We have a 100% success rate for planning applications within conservation areas*
  • 80% of our planning applications for listed buildings have been approved*

Check out this recent installation of box sash windows to Grade 11 listed properties at 18-76 Bromley Street E1 that was carried out by our sister company.

So, if you are wanting to reduce your heating bills, enjoy a warm airtight home, sleep sounder, increase security and enhance the look of your property whilst retaining its originality and character, our professional joiners will be able to help you. We have learned the ins and outs of the planning process over the years and we enjoy passing this knowledge on to customers. We want to make sure their new windows meet the expectations set by the planning authorities. Here are a few pointers to get you started:

Double check the listed status of your property

In England, every property built before 1700 is listed, as are most built between 1700 and 1840. Over 90% of all listed buildings are Grade II and this is the level of protection that normally applies to everyday properties (like homes). In contrast, Grade I listed status is given to buildings of “exceptional” interest – the Natural History Museum or St Paul’s Cathedral are good examples. However, you should still check through your home’s documentation to confirm the listed status of your property. Listed status should feature on any survey or on the deeds of your property. If in any doubt, you can contact English Heritage or Historic Scotland who should have all the information you need on record.

Consult with the authorities

We always recommend engaging with planning authorities early on in your project’s journey. Discussing your ideas with your local council, English Heritage, or Historic Scotland can really help you understand the issues that might arise from an early stage in the project. This will let you plan around potential challenges rather than coming across them too far down the line.

When replacing or replacing windows keep things like-for-like

Authorities tend to prefer that homeowners of listed properties keep their window repairs and replacements as minimal as possible so they are near-identical to the original window. After all, listed buildings and conservation areas are in place to preserve the original look and feel of these areas. However, if you are trying to improve the thermal performance of your windows or reduce the traffic noise coming from the busy road outside on your street, then replacing windows like-for-like will not be effective or appealing.

Can you double glaze windows in listed buildings or conservation areas?

Modern timber sash windows are certainly able to contain double-glazing. It is possible to replace the single panes with double glazing within your current sashes and preserve the original box frame. Or, if your box frame is beyond repair, we can make new sashes that are complete with double glazing and a new box frame.

However, you will need to gain planning approval to double glaze a property within a listed building or conservation area. Our entire listed building consent process is outlined in this detailed guide to listed building services put together by our sister company Wandsworth Sash Windows. It will navigate you through the consent process for works in a listed building/conservation area. There are four options, each with their pros and cons. It will guide you through each of the options, their pros and cons, whether an application to the council is necessary, and the likelihood of approval.

One of the most popular options for listed buildings and conservation areas is Fineo vacuum insulated glass. This glazing option delivers better thermal efficiency and sound insulation than triple glazing but is as slim as single glazing. It is the perfect solution for listed properties as the glazing can easily be retrofitted into the existing box frames. We haven’t had a planning authority refuse this glazing option yet. It is a premium glazing option and, therefore, this is reflected in the cost. However, the benefits associated with vacuum insulated glazing are unrivalled. In fact, Fineo vacuum-insulated glass boasts a U-value of just 0.7 (A++ standard).

Our team here at Parsons Joinery are very skilled at finding a solution that works for both the customer and the planning officer. After a consultation with a customer, we will often submit approval for the project’s best-case scenario and will work down the list until we are granted approval.

For example, if a customer wants double glazing to be installed within their listed property, we will initially apply for double glazing. However, if this is not approved, we will apply for Fineo glazing. If that is rejected, we will apply for single glazing. We will discuss every detail with the customer and will agree with them what they would like us to apply for initially. We will also set the expectation for what is likely to be approved.

If you own a listed property and are looking to update your windows, it is always worth talking to our team, even if you have had a planning application denied in the past. We are confident we can find a solution that offers you a modern energy efficient home and meets the approval of your local planning authority.

*Statistics last updated Feb 2023.