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Conservation Areas : Remove restrictions which prevent alterations that would improve the energy efficiency of the property.

Comment 4th July 2010

I would like to see the repeal of regulations which prevent the owners of homes in conservation areas  improving the energy efficiency of their homes to the very highest levels achievable.

New houses are much better insulated than those that were built in earlier years – particularly those that were built more than 30 years ago.

The reduction of energy consumption is an important part of everyday thinking for both individuals and government alike. It is essential that all buildings can be made as energy efficent as possible. 

Many properties, especially those built post-war, have few restrictions limiting works that can be undertaken improve their energy efficiency for example installing insulation, installing double glazed windows and posibly installing solar panels on the roof.

However, there are a great many domestic properties in the UK which lie within designated conservation areas.  In conservation areas there are restrictions imposed which (often) mean that, to give just a single instance, windows can only be replaced with exact replicas of the original windows.

We are often being reminded that Britain is a forward looking country and yet we have regulations which impose Victorian (or whichever era is appropriate) technological standards onto buildings which are family homes in the 21st Century.

Modern window technology, wall insulation coverings and the like are all far more energy efficient than the original designs.

Regulations which prevent home owners improving the energy efficiency of their homes to the very highest levels achievable should be repealed or replaced.

Rules which prevent the installation of solar or water heating panels on roofs should also be removed.

Conservation areas often encompass great numbers of what are essentially "ordinary" houses – peoples homes – and have no specific architectural merit to them.  I cannot see any great reason as to why the original condition must be preserved.  I can, however, accept that communities may wish to preserve the the overall ambiance of an area and that, for example, regulations requiring that replacement windows should be in a similar style to the originals may be acceptable.

Why does this matter?

Improving energy efficiency in the home is an essential goal.  Home owners minimise their (inexorably rising) energy costs and the nation reduces its carbon footprint.

Many (typically post-war) houses can be improved to reduce heat losses to the best modern standards almost without restriction.

However, the huge numbers of houses which lie within conservation areas cannot as there are regulations which restrict the changes that can be made to the property.

To have regulations which prevent huge numbers of houses being improved, so that they can as energy efficient as possible, should be, at the end of the first decade of the 21st Century, anathema.

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