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Landlord Told To Replace Triple Glazing With Single Pane Sash Windows

Campbell Road

Portsmouth's Conservation Area policy has been thrown into question since local landlord, Mike West, was told to replace his energy efficient triple glazing with old style sash windows. Parts of Campbell Road are included in one of Portsmouth's 30 conservation areas as councillors, back in the late 2010's, sought to retain its look and feel as a 'leafy Southsea suburb' (their description).

You can argue whether it ever was so but looking at the photo above – you will note that although the houses were built as pairs, no two pairs were alike and today, no pair is the same as its twin.Can you tell which of these properties won a Portsmouth Society commendation for the restoration work and which is the law-breaking triple glazed abomination? 

 And The Answer Is…. 

 The house in the centre of the picture between the tree and the lamp-post is triple glazed, but it has also been awarded a commendation by the Portsmouth Society for its tasteful restoration, covering items such as the front wall (which replaced a low quality 1960's wall / wrought iron gate), stained glass in the porch and other items.

What is a Conservation Area

The new stained glass in the porch

Conservation areas exist to manage and protect the special architectural and historic interest of a place - in other words, the features that make it unique. Every local authority in England has at least one conservation area and there are around 10,000 in England. Portsmouth has 30 and this one comprises 5 distinct groups of houses in the Campbell Road area of Southsea, protected by Article 4 Directions between 2008 and 2010 to protect the 'Leafy 19th century suburb'.

You can debate whether 5 groups of houses interspersed by developments from the 1930's to the 1960's is actually a leafy 19th century suburb or not, but it is interesting that the owners can do anything they like to their properties as long as they get planning permission for any change to the front windows, front door, chimneys or painting of any brickwork on the front façade.

As each pair of houses was unique at time of build, and all have been altered since – plus many have had porches added and front walls removed or changed, it is hard to ascertain what precisely PCC are trying to conserve here – especially as when the Conservation area was established, around two thirds of the properties already had uPVC windows.

What is the Problem With Number 36?

Front wall restored to original style using bricks which perfectly match the house facade

Let's be honest – it is an HMO and neighbours and councillors hate HMO's.

In this case, the house has been refurbished to a high standard – the nasty 1960's front wall was pulled down and replaced with something in keeping with the original, the porch was restored and the stained glass lovingly repaired and rotting windows were replaced with triple glazed uPVC ones….

A neighbour complained about the windows and the owner was told he would need to apply for retrospective planning permission. He did so and it was refused.

Then PCC Planning decided to issue an enforcement notice stating that he had breached Conservation area rules and would need to remove the triple glazed uPVC windows and replace them with single glazed sash windows.

Why single glazed you may ask? We have no idea – sash windows can be bought / made with double glazing these days but triple glazing is too heavy and thus it is a choice between 'the most energy efficient glazing available today' or 'something with a sash' as the 2 are mutually exclusive. It is possible to get uPVC double glazed sash windows, which in theory would meet the PCC criteria – but that just goes to show the imprecision of their documentation, as we are sure it is the material they object to and not the way it opens.

Fun Facts

Slightly amusing, but the neighbour who complained about the installation of uPVC windows has herself had uPVC windows installed without the necessary approvals. It will be interesting to see whether she is treated as harshly by PCC. Also, notice the ornate woodwork on the gable ends in the photos below - this fretwork is covered by the Conservation rules as it constitutes one of the architectural details that are protected. Yes, you guessed it, when the 'neighbour' had her house front updated, she removed all of this ornate fretwork....

Even more amusing, number 36 had uPVC windows on the ground floor before the Conservation area was created, so this enforcement order is seeking to change the upstairs windows to wooden sash  windows whilst leaving the downstairs as uPVC non sash as PCC have no ability to mandate retrospective change for modifications made before the scheme started - so basically this is a 'we do not like your consistent uPVC facade, please replace it with a 50:50 wood / uPVC window selection'

What Happens Next?

Mike obviously did not want to throw away his very expensive triple glazing so has appealed the enforcement notice and we are all waiting for the Planning Inspector to visit from Bristol and make a decision. We will update you when we hear his/her decision.

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