Friday, 26 March 2010

West London Planners Refuse Appeal to Replace Steel Windows With Aluminium

Further to my previous post about Du Cane Court, and the effect that the proposed replacement of the original steel windows with aluminium, I found this article in Planning Magazine.

DC Casebook: Householder Development - Window loss blocked in conservation area

Householder development

Planning, 12 March 2010

The owner of a semi-detached house in west London has been refused permission to replace three Crittall metal windows with aluminium windows on the grounds that it would harm the character and appearance of a conservation area.

The inspector found an interesting mix of architectural styles on the estate, where much of the housing was influenced by the modern movement. A local design guide stated that a curved, streamlined shape, as exemplified by Crittall windows, was a feature of many houses. It identified the loss of traditional fenestration as a key factor in the deterioration of the area's special character.

An article 4 direction restricting permitted development rights reflected the council's strict policy stance on unsympathetic development. The inspector agreed that the proposed replacement windows could not replicate the distinctive curves. The proposal would be contrary to development plan policy requiring schemes to have regard to their historic and architectural context, he ruled.

The appellant complained that curved doubleglazed windows were not readily available. The inspector pointed to the design guide's advice that double glazing could be provided by secondary glazing and that modern double-glazed Crittall windows can be obtained as direct replacements.

DCS Number 100-066-469

Inspector Mike Fox; Written representations

The key phrase for me is "It identified the loss of traditional fenestration as a key factor in the deterioration of the area's special character."

Why is it that one local authority in London can take one view, and a neighbouring one take the complete opposite. Is preservation of our architectural heritage subject to post code lottery now?

Posted via email from John's Posterous

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Is another Art Deco Masterpiece Going To Suffer Inappropriate Refurbishment?

I heard some disturbing news today.

In Balham, South London, stands a grand Art Deco apartment block called Du Cane Court.

Its Wikipedia entry states it is, "A distinctive local landmark, it was opened in 1937 and, with 676 apartments, is the largest privately owned block of flats under one roof in Europe. It is so distinctive (at least from a great height in the air) that it was reputedly used as a navigational landmark by German pilots bombing London during the Second World War"

Further, it claims, "It is widely believed (particularly in Balham) that Du Cane Court was to be the chosen seat of government for Hitler's invasion should his armies successfully conquer the British, though no documentary evidence exists to prove this theory."

There is a proposed refurbishment of this building to include replacement of the original steel windows. Following consultation with local planners, it has been proposed to replace the steel windows with Aluminium, using mock glazing bars instead of true divided lights.

English Heritage state "Window openings and frames establish the character of a building's elevation. They should not generally be altered in their proportions or details, as they are conspicuous elements of the design."

English Heritage state "Window openings and frames establish the character of a building's elevation. They should not generally be altered in their proportions or details, as they are conspicuous elements of the design."

Last year, a similar Art Deco apartment building in Richmond, West London, carried out a similar refurbishment, and decided to replace their original steel windows with modern, double-glazed replicas from the original manufacturers. The project team and residents of Lichfield Court were so happy with the outcome, that they issued a brocure which is available here in PDF format.

To rub salt into the wound, Crittall Windows, suppliers of the original steel windows, have been asked to quote to supply the aluminium replacements. That's a bit like asking Michelangelo how much he'd charge to paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling in white emulsion.

Let's hope it's not too late to stop a totally insensitive refurbishment of part of our architectural heritage.

Posted via email from John's Posterous

Monday, 15 March 2010

Braintree’s Living Landscapes unveils new bench in Town Centre – to celebrate Crittall Manufacturing Company

A unique steel, circular bench which celebrates the role of Crittall’s Windows in the life of Braintree, has been unveiled in the town.


The bench, especially commissioned by Braintree Local Committee’s Living Landscapes Project to surround a newly planted semi-mature London plane tree, was officially unveiled on Friday 12th February by special guest, The Hon Mrs Valentine Richardson - the only surviving daughter of the late Valentine G Crittall, who became Lord Braintree and was a former Chairman of the Crittall Manufacturing Company.


The bench, created by Essex artist Tim Ward, is inspired by the distinctive forms of Crittall windows and incorporates colour plates of images reproduced from the Crittall archive at Braintree Museum.


At the unveiling, Hon Mrs Valentine Richardson said:”I wouldn’t have missed this for anything.  I love the bench - its clean and simple design is really attractive. This has been a really special occasion.”


The new bench and tree planting were made possible thanks to Braintree District Council’s Braintree Local Committee which established the Living Landscapes project to introduce new tree planting and associated benefits into the town. 


Cllr Wendy Schmitt, Chairman of Living LandscapesTree planting and environmental improvements are the things that the local people of Braintree most supported at our public meetings. So this is great news for the town – we know that trees can boost the ‘feel good’ factor of a town, appealing to shoppers, visitors and traders alike.

“Not only do people love to see trees in towns,  they help off-set the effects of climate change too, by creating shady areas for visitors and shoppers, making streets and buildings cooler in summer, cleaning the air we breathe and helping to reduce wind speeds.”

To plant the London plane tree, Stewart Landscape Construction used specialist urban planting techniques including ‘root cells’ which provide an adequate rooting area without impacting on paving and nearby properties


Braintree District Council’s Landscape Services team is managing the Living Landscape project which set aside funds from Local Area Committee and Essex County Council to achieve a number of green initiatives. Work to date has included planting new trees along Pierrefitte Way to create a ‘green gateway’ into the town; traditionally managing woodland at Kings Wood at Marks Farm; improving local green spaces and planting new plane trees in Braintree town centre. Work continues this spring with more tree planting and new seating at Great Square.

Posted via email from John's Posterous