The Wood Window Alliance has developed a CPD module on ‘Heritage Windows’

heritage windowsThere’s something of a paradox about wood windows and conservation areas.

Conservation officers are often passionate advocates of wood, yet the spread of plastic windows seems unstoppable in conservation areas. They are exceptionally well-informed on many issues, yet don’t seem to have a clear idea of how the timber window industry can solve many of their problems, whether in conservation areas, or for historic or listed buildings. 

On the back of last year’s survey of councils, English Heritage have campaigned hard to encourage the more widespread adoption of Article 4 Directions, a necessary step to giving conservation officers the powers to prevent homeowners in conservation areas replacing their windows with PVC-U units. 

The survey found that:

  • Only 13% of conservation areas have an Article 4 Direction which can prevent plastic windows and doors and other small-scale but damaging changes
  • Only 54% of conservation areas have an Appraisal, or one in the making. These identify what is special and needs protecting and help in the area’s management
  • Only 36% of conservation areas had seen enforcement action within the last three years requiring unauthorised works to be rectified. 

Yet the survey also shows that conservation areas with Appraisals or Article 4 Directions are almost twice as likely to improve in the next three years as those without. 

Having discussed the issues with English Heritage, the Wood Window Alliance, representing the majority of quality window suppliers in the UK, came up with its ‘Repair, Replicate, Replace’ guidance. This was launched earlier this year as part of a video that also explained how windows made to Wood Window Alliance standards had an estimated minimum service life of 60 years. 

For the purist (and for historic or listed properties) replica windows are available, single (putty) glazed, with historic glass if required, finished on site. But for conservation areas, and other period properties, putty glazing and on-site finishing should be things of the past. Alliance member’s beading can match the profile of putty glazing without compromising the integrity of double glazed units; and specially coloured spacers can give the appearance of individually glazed panes without the need for cumbersome glazing bars. Windows are available with modern spring balanced sashes or traditional pulleys and weights. 

So, when it comes to replacing windows in conservation areas, the really interesting news is that today’s factory-finished timber windows can deliver the integrity of authentic materials, sightlines, mouldings and glazing bar thicknesses without sacrificing modern standards of energy-efficiency. They are also highly durable and only require minimum maintenance, typically offering an 8-10 year warranty on the initial paint finish. 

The response to the video showed there was an appetite for greater knowledge on the subject.  So now the Wood Window Alliance has developed a CPD module on ‘Heritage Windows’ that has been launched as part of its new Information Centre. 

You can find the Wood Window Alliance Information Centre at

Barnaby Dickens
Wood Window Alliance
October 2010