The object of their curiosity is the humble sash window. Contrary to popular perception, English Heritage says the sash is a dab hand at keeping out "air infiltration" - or what normal folk would call draughts.
A timber sliding sash window dating from the 1880s was rescued from a skip and subjected to the university team's tests. The results suggest that much of this venerable fenestration can be upgraded to meet building regulations on heat retention, they conclude.
"Heat loss through contact with the glass and frames can be significantly reduced by adopting simple measures like closing thick curtains and plain roller blinds," English Heritage proudly announces.
"There is a lot of misunderstanding about the potential for historic buildings to be brought up to date," says the agency's building conservation and research team leader Chris Wood, who commissioned the study.
"We hope that this research will herald serious rethinking and help homeowners and local authorities refurbish historic buildings with the confidence that modern standards can be met without compromising historic character - whether it is individual dwellings, a local school, a town hall or a library."
Harborough District Council planners have been tackling the conundrum of whether a Mongolian yurt in a Leicestershire field has been inhabited for more than four years.
If it had, student Will Renner could continue to live there. If not, it would have to come down. Sworn affidavits and rent receipts were produced before planners decided, on the balance of probability, that the yurt was lawful because it had been in existence and used continuously for more than four years.
But maybe they could have saved themselves some angst. According to Wikipedia, yurts are passed from father to son in their central Asian homeland. A family's length of tenure can be measured by the accumulation of stains on the roof from decades of smoke passing through it.
Poole Borough Council member and former town mayor Judy Butt has become the latest member of the public to fall foul of the complexity of planning rules.
Four years ago she and her husband replaced grass and asphalt in front of their house with a permeable paved parking area. Now the Butts are having to apply for regularisation of the planning position as it applies to the works.
Unknown to them, a condition imposed on the developers when they built the property in 1984 stipulated that there should be no hard area for vehicles in front of the property. As a member of Poole's planning committee, Butt feels obliged to toe the line.
"There are probably thousands of people like me in the borough who don't know about this sort of condition and go ahead with work. But it is not in the council's interest to pursue them as it would clog up the system with a procedure that it cannot charge for," she told Planning.
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