High Court test case over double glazing installation on listed building

A Hampshire man has mounted a test case legal battle over a planning decsion which prevented him from replacing the windows in his listed home with double glazing.

Owners of listed buildings are not allowed to replace crumbling old windows with modern double glazing.

Now though, in a landmark case at London's High Court, Timothy Guinness has attacked what he brands as a "prejudice" by planners against allowing double glazed windows in listed buildings.

He told judge Neil Cameron QC that he decided to mount the challenge in his own interests and the interests of many other listed building owners caught in the same predicament, after a planning inspector refused permission for him and his wife Beverley to replace the existing windows at their home at Widmoor Farm, College Lane, Ellisfield.

Now he must wait to hear whether his battle to change the thinking on windows in listed buildings has succeeded. Because of the importance and complexity of the case the judge has reserved judgment and will give it in writing later.

He was told by Guiness: "I felt that by standing up and being counted, at some financial risk, I was doing my fellow countrymen a service, if it turned out that the courts could and would correct an error of law in the inspector's decision."

He said that the prejudice against double glazing was perhaps understandable in the days of "frightful PVC windows", but, he added, "time has moved on".

The windows he seeks to install at his home are timber framed and will enhance its appearance, he claims, as well as make it more energy efficient.

Guinness said that he had been brought up at the Grade II listed property, which dates back to the 16th Century but was considerably extended in the 1930s, 1940s and 1960s. He and his wife have lived there since 1980.

His application for listed building consent to replace the windows was initially refused by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council in September 2013, on the basis that the proposal would harm the historic character, appearance and significance of the property.

In June, the inspector rejected the couple's appeal, finding that the proposed timber windows would be "bulky" in comparison to the existing metal frames.

Though she accepted that the Crittall windows at the property are of "very poor quality", she found that the proposed windows would be of an equally poor design.

Lawyers representing communities secretary Eric Pickles argued that the inspector had been entitled to reach the decision she did in the exercise of her planning judgment.

Guinness v Secretary of State for Communitiesand Local Government. Case Number: CO/3640/2014

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