'Inappropriate' windows refused for historic building in South Shields' Westoe Village

Plans to install uPVC windows at a heritage building in Westoe Village have been knocked back by council planners.

Back in October 2021, South Tyneside Council’s planning department received a planning application for 10 Southgarth West, in the Westoe ward.

This included replacing existing timber windows to the front and side elevations with white uPVC sliding sash windows.

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The property, which is visible from Sunderland Road, was Grade-II listed up until 2011 when it was officially ‘de-listed’ by Historic England.

The window plans were refused for the Southgarth West property.

According to planning documents, South Tyneside Council still class the property as a “valuable non-designated heritage asset, situated in a prominent location which contributes positively to the character and appearance of the Westoe Conservation Area”.

A document describes the Westoe Conservation Area, which was designated in 1971, as ‘based on Westoe Village, an ancient street containing a remarkable collection of eighteenth and nineteenth century houses, in a green tree-filled setting with clear rural medieval origins’.

The zone was extended in 1975 and 1981 to include surrounding estates ‘with related character and appearance in need of protection’.

The planning application for the Southgarth West site proposed replacing timber windows with modern materials, seeking to match existing patterns and detailing.

It also included the replacement of white painted timber window surrounds and panelling with new white painted timber.

A heritage statement submitted with the application said the appearance of the building would be “unchanged” – with the uPVC windows bringing benefits of “improved weather resistance and less future maintenance”.

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During consultation on the plans however, the council’s historic environment officer raised concerns about the scheme.

This included the “inappropriate” use of uPVC and the proposal “causing harm in terms of heritage significance”.

Heritage experts concluded that the proposed window plans, as submitted, would not give a” similar visual appearance” to the existing windows.

A statement from the historic environment officer included in a planning report reads: “Development must be viewed in terms of its impact on the character and appearance of the conservation area.

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“I am of the view that the proposed materials are inappropriate and wouldresult in harm.

“Whilst it would constitute less than substantial harm, it is harm nonetheless.

“Whilst I am generally supportive of the proposal to improve the thermal efficiency and usability of the building, uPVC is not an appropriate material.

“The proposal as it stands would cause harm in terms of heritage significance and I am therefore unable to support the application.”

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After considering all representations, South Tyneside Council’s planning department refused the application on January 13, 2022.

A decision report published on the council’s website said the proposals would clash with “local and national policies relating to the historic environment”.

This included the proposal resulting in “less than substantial harm to the character and appearance of the Westoe Conservation Area and a non-designated heritage asset within it.”

The decision report goes on to say: “The proposal would result in an unacceptable level of harm, amounting to less than substantial harm, to the character and appearance of both the Westoe Conservation Area and to the application site (which is a non-designated heritage asset) without suitable justification or public benefits to outweigh the harm caused.”

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The applicant has the right to challenge the council’s ruling by lodging an appeal with the Secretary of State.

For more information on the plans, visit South Tyneside Council’s online planning portal and search reference: ST/0807/21/HFUL

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