Scottish Reporter to visit flats in row over plastic window frames

Monday January 16th 2023


The new uPVC windows on the top floor can be seen in contrast with the first floor windows.

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

A listed building at the centre of a row over plastic window frames will be visited by a Scottish Government Reporter as part of an appeal to Scottish Ministers.

The owner of the flats on Dalkeith High Street said she replaced the ‘deteriorating’ wooden window frames with UPVC as a ‘as a matter of urgency’ to protect her tenants’ ‘health’.

However Midlothian Council’s planners have ordered the windows to be ripped out after insisting the Category B listed building must have windows which are “like for like”.

The plight of the owner Gloria Crolla Silvestri led Midlothian MSP Colin Beattie to step in urging the council to rethink its decision.

Now the Scottish Government Reporter appointed to decide an appeal by Mrs Silvestri, has said they will visit the property and see the windows themselves before making a decision.

In a letter to parties involved in the appeal, they said: “The purpose of this visit is to allow the Reporter to become familiar with all the physical aspects of the site and the surrounding area.

“It is likely that after carrying out the site inspection the reporter will have enough information to make their decision and it will be issued in due course.”

Planners issued an enforcement notice to Mrs Silvestri, and her tenants, last year saying the features of the original windows were an essential part of the character of the listed building.

It ordered the owner to “remove all UPVC windows of the property and replace them with white painted timber frame, sash and case windows which match the removed timber windows.”

Appealing against the notice, agents for Mrs Silvestri, said the decision to replace the windows without planning approval had been an ‘honest mistake’.

They said: “The original windows were beyond repair and not suitable for upgrade to double glazing. It was for this reason a replacement was carried out to create a more habitable environment for the tenants.”

Local MSP Mr Beattie supported the owner pointing out the benefits of the windows in the current financial climate.

He said: “I wish to highlight the significant cost of the replacement of the installed windows, and that this cost would have and the negative impact upon the owner.

“I wish to add that the current energy crisis is having a significant impact upon businesses and individuals. The installed windows provide a considerable benefit to reducing both costs and energy use at this property.”

The site visit is scheduled to take place next month.

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