Planning Permission for Windows

Many people seem confused about whether they need to apply for planning permission or any other approvals before replacing windows in their home.

Here at Abbey Glass & Windows we spend a great deal of time fitting new windows of all sorts in existing properties, so we know all the rules and regulations. We thought it would be useful to sum up what consents you need if you are considering improving your home with sparkling new windows or secondary glazing.

There are different requirements as far as consents go for replacing old single-glazed windows in dwelling houses, flats (apartments) or listed buildings. None of these permissions are particularly complicated to achieve and it’s a job that’s certainly worth doing to improve the thermal insulation, aesthetic appeal and value of your property, as well as cutting down on maintenance.

Replacing Windows in Houses

Replacing windows falls into the category of minor improvements that are allowed under Permitted Development Rights, which means that in the majority of cases you don’t need planning permission to change the windows in a single dwelling house. The new windows, however, should be of similar appearance to the originals on the house – but you can, for example, swop wooden frames with single glazing for uPVC or aluminium frames with double glazing with no problem. Radical changes like putting in protruding bay windows, however, may be classed as an extension and therefore need planning position.

Permitted Development Rights don’t cover houses of multiple occupation, properties in conservation areas or commercial premises (even if they were built as dwellings originally) though.

Replacing Windows in Conservation Areas

If your house is in a conservation area (which is a part of town designated by the local authority as being of special architectural or historical interest) then you will probably need to apply for planning permission, even if your property is relatively modern. Being in a conservation area means your house might fall under Article 4 Directions, which, among other things, curtails Permitted Development rights pertaining to replacing windows.

You can find out if you live in a conservation area by contacting your local planning authority (LPA), who will guide you on the permissions you will require. Many local authority planning departments have online resources on their websites where you can find out information about your property’s conservation status.

Replacing Windows in Listed Buildings

Any residence – house or flat – that is a listed building will require planning permission to replace any windows.

Listed buildings come in various categories – Grade 1 (exceptional interest), Grade II* (important and of special interest), and Grade II (special architectural or historic interest).

If you think your property may be listed you can check by searching the National Heritage List for England.

You’ll have to make a planning application to the local authority and make a case for why the existing windows on your listed property need to be replaced. If you intend to make a sensitive, sympathetic replacement in keeping with the character of the building (which Abbey Windows can help you with) you may be successful, but it is more likely that the authority will suggest restoration instead. It could be that adding secondary glazing inside the original windows will be a good solution.

Replacing Windows in Flats

Different planning requirements apply to flats and apartments than single dwelling houses, so we would recommend that you check with your landlord, freeholder or property management company before you go ahead, and consult with the local planning authority too to make sure there are no restrictions on the particular building your flat is in.

It is likely that if you are simply planning to replace “like with like” as far as the flat windows go, you won’t need permission, but if you’re planning to change the style, glazing or material – which will impact on the exterior look of the building – you will undoubtedly need to apply for permission.

The situation is even more complex if the building in which you have your flat is listed or in a conservation area. It’s best to seek advice from the planning authority about window replacements in a flat or apartment.

There’s no better way to give your home a make-over than replacing old shabby, draughty windows with brand new, good-looking thermally efficient ones. Consult with us at Abbey Glass & Windows and we’ll help you achieve your dream.

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