Heritage joinery for listed buildings in South West England
Heritage joinery for listed buildings in South West England
From timber sash window repair to making replacement bespoke sash windows that keep planners happy, heritage joinery for listed properties brings unique challenges. In this post, Joe Lancaster talks about heritage joinery for South west England’s treasured listed properties…
We’ve probably all heard the words ‘listed building’. But before we look at the role of specialist bespoke joinery in their repair and maintenance, let’s clarify exactly what the term means.
What’s a listed building?
According to The Listed Property Owners’ Club, ‘listing refers to a building which is included on the statutory list of “buildings of special architectural or historic interest”, which is sometimes referred to as The National Heritage List’.
Historic England’s website, says, ‘Listing marks and celebrates a building’s special architectural and historic interest, and also brings it under the consideration of the planning system, so that it can be protected for future generations.’
Listing embraces whole buildings, inside and out, and any structures attached to them or within their curtilage. Therefore, timber windows, as well as doors and other heritage joinery, are at the heart of listed building status. Because of the ravages of time, such windows, whether casements or elegant sliding box sashes, often need repair or replacement. Whether you renew a casement or make a high quality sash window repair, you’ll probably need help from someone who understands specialist bespoke joinery for our heritage building stock.
According to Historic England, Britain has around 400,000 listed buildings. Over 90 per cent are categorised as Grade II Listed. That’s lots of heritage joinery to look after, including timber sash windows and casements needing special maintenance, refurbishment or replacement attention.
Heritage joinery for a Dartmouth bandstand
Listed buildings range from beautiful townhouses to stately coastal hotels and even public structures such as the listed Victorian bandstand we refurbished for Dartmouth Town Council in Devon. For that project, on the town’s North Embankment, we painstakingly replaced timber panels in the bandstand’s sliding doors. We replaced rotting timber with new sections, then spray finished the completed joinery ready for the next 100 years as focal point of Dartmouth’s formal gardens. Though a small structure, this was definitely one of our more unusual projects.
Whether as heritage property owners, occupiers or maintainers, we share responsibility for maintaining such beautiful parts of our built environment. In Devon and elsewhere in South West England we’re fortunate with the range of listed properties. Not least in our local council areas of Exeter, Teignbridge and South Hams. In all three, we regularly take care of sash window restoration or make new wooden sash windows to the delight of property owners and planning authorities alike.
The different grades of listing
So we’ve established what a ‘listed’ building is. And that our region has lots of such properties. But what about the different categories of listing? What’s the difference between a Grade I listing, Grade II and Grade II*?
Grade I listed buildings
Grade I listed buildings have the highest historical significance – with ‘exceptional interest’. In our home council area of Teignbridge, most Grade I properties are churches, plus some secular buildings such as Newton Abbot’s Forde House and Moretonhampstead’s Cruck House Almshouses.
Grade II* listed buildings
Next are Grade II starred buildings. These are ‘particularly important buildings of more than special interest’.
Grade II Listed buildings
Move into this category and the number of properties increases massively, as does the prevalence of residential buildings. As mentioned earlier, according to Historic England, over 90 per cent of listed property is Grade II Listed – ‘buildings that are of special interest, warranting every effort to preserve them.’ We’re proud to play our part in this vital work.
Stunning Lympstone Manor
We’ve worked on plenty of Grade II Listed structures over the years, including extensive work on the sliding sash windows at chef Michael Caines’ stunning Lympstone Manor Hotel near Exmouth.
For this project, which we completed in 2020, the brief demanded meticulous refurbishment and draught proofing of the original timber sash windows. As is often the case with sash window renovation, our work included sill overhauls, removal of rot and decayed timber, splicing in new timber with specialist epoxy resins, replacement of putty and painting.
Grade III listed buildings
Just as a matter of historical interest, a former non-statutory Grade III listing was abolished in 1970.
As well as the sensitivities associated with timber window repair, refurbishment or replacement in listed buildings, planning permission is often required for unlisted properties in conservation areas.
Near our South Devon base, we’ve got 83 conservation areas in Teignbridge and South Hams alone. As for listed properties, our experience with such structures means we can advise and support you from first enquiry to successful completion. We can also help if you’re trying to decide whether your joinery work will be allowed under ‘permitted development’.
Preference for repair and maintenance
Not surprisingly, given the imperative to preserve heritage features such as windows and glazing, local planners prefer repair and maintenance over outright replacement of joinery in listed buildings. Timber sash windows and casements are among the most frequent examples of this that we encounter.
Working on such properties demands much more than just excellent heritage carpentry and joinery, and finishing skills. Proven ability to work effectively with the planning system, and in particular conservation officers, is critical to success. Fortunately, after a couple of decades’ experience with Joinery Solutions (SW) Ltd and sister company JML Property Maintenance Ltd, we’ve excellent relationships with planners and conservation officers in Teignbridge, South Hams and Exeter councils.
From first enquiry to completion of finished joinery to your (and planners’) requirements, this makes all the difference. We’ve worked hard to develop these relationships, so please take advantage of our efforts.
When can you replace heritage joinery?
Of course, casement or sliding sash windows, doors and other heritage joinery are sometimes beyond economic repair. In this case, replacement may be allowed by planning authorities. However, if like-for-like replacement isn’t possible, you’ll need listed building consent. That’s because listed buildings are protected under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990.
Although, like the planning authorities, we prefer repair and renovation whenever possible, we regularly advise customers and help them with heritage joinery replacement. Doing this for box sashes is one of our specialities, so please ask about the possibilities if sensitive sash window restoration isn’t possible in your case.
By the way, like-for-like means exactly what you’d imagine. Whether for double sliding box sashes or casements with transoms It means that materials, appearance, glazing patterns, timber moulding profiles, glazing type and style of opening need to faithfully replicate the originals. A ‘typical’ project? Replacement of heritage timber sliding sashes on the listed Dartmouth town house shown below.
Why you need specialist help
From partial window sash replacement to a new set of custom-built sash windows, work on listed building joinery is often called heritage joinery. It complements heritage carpentry, another service that our skilled team can assist with. Maybe all you need is thorough repair, refurbishment and draught proofing of single-glazed sash windows? Or, perhaps timber decay is beyond economic repair and replacement is required? Either way, we can show you relevant examples of our heritage joinery and introduce you to delighted customers who’ll vouch for our work and integrity.
The perfect solution for you and the planners may be repair, replacement single-glazed sliding sashes. Or it could be bespoke manufacture of new slimline double-glazed sash windows to faithfully replicate the originals while improving thermal efficiency and reducing noise. Either way, we can help.
Discover more about our timber windows and window repairs for Devon’s listed buildings. Let’s have a chat about how our heritage joinery skills can bring new life to your listed property. We’ll come to you, or you’re welcome to book an appointment to meet my team at our Newton Abbot joinery workshop.