Council uPVC policy accused of stopping its ‘green’ progress

Wednesday December 14th 2022


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

East Lothian council is being warned it could be putting ‘excessive barriers’ in front of homeowners who want to save energy after refusing to allow 120-year-old timber window frames to be replaced with modern plastic.

Stuart Durie wanted to replace seven windows at the front of his Gullane home after he was allowed to replace the rear ones without issue.

However his proposals to use uPVC alternatives were rejected by East Lothian planning officers who said because they could be seen from the road they could set a harmful precedent, describing the attempt to mimic the original timber and sash frames as ‘contrived and unauthentic’

Now in an appeal to the council’s Local Review Body, his agent is arguing that the council’s approach to the use of the plastic alternative could hamper its own climate emergency policy.

He says: “If the aims and objectives of the climate change strategy are to be met, owners have to be engaged with by the council and given real encouragement, not have excessive barriers placed in the way of the reasonable progress they want to make.

“The use of a different material to make a nigh perfect replica window and door which would be unrecognisable from a distance is surely excessive reason for refusal nowadays.”

Mr Durie had wanted to replace the front windows of his home on Hopetoun Terrace along with the front door.

At the time the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland objected to the use of the plastic frames saying they would “would neither preserve, or enhance, the special architectural or historic character of this part of the Gullane conservation area.”

However Mr Durie’s agent insisted the quality of the replacements would mean they looked the same.

And he said residents in the area were lining up to carry out similar changes to their homes as rising energy prices made their old timber frames too expensive.

He said: “My understanding is that several owners adjoining the application site have commented that they want to do exactly the same replacements as the applicants as they worry they cannot afford the prospects of increased heating costs and also extensive repair costs now obviously imminent.”

The review body will meet on Thursday to consider the appeal.

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