Edinburgh woman loses battle with council over plastic 'energy efficient' window frames at her Marchmont flat
and live on Freeview channel 276
An Edinburgh woman has lost a battle with the council to keep new windows she had fitted in an effort to drive down energy bills.
Edinburgh city council sent a letter to the resident after traditional timber window frames were replaced with plastic ones, saying the change ‘diminishes the character’ of the ground floor Marchmont flat. She was ordered by the authority to rip them out — but decided to fight the decision, arguing the new windows are “almost indistinguishable from the original”. However, the Scottish Government has now sided with the council on the matter, upholding the enforcement notice.
Audrey Gow, who received the notice last August, said in her appeal that she was “quite horrified that I had done anything wrong”. The council reprimanded her for replacing four windows on the Marchmont Crescent tenement without seeking listed building consent. It said: “The materials used in the construction of a window is an essential part of its character and the replacement of original timber windows with uPVC ones diminishes the character to the detriment of the listed building.”
Appealing that decision, Ms Gow said: “Prior to installing the new windows, the existing windows were not in a good state and at least one of the windows had brackets at the bottom on the outside holding the wooden frame together.
“It seems irresponsible and wasteful to remove four perfectly good windows which are only four months old. It’s almost as if I am being penalised for trying to do the right thing and maintain the property by installing new windows.”
Ms Gow added it was for the “greater good of the community” to allow uPVC replacements which are “more affordable” and “reduce ongoing heating costs for many families and thereby reduce emissions/carbon footprint”. Adding that the situation had caused her “stress and anxiety”. Fitting another new set of windows is likely to cost her thousands more.
Steve Field, a planning reporter with the Scottish Government who reviewed the case, acknowledged there would be “adverse financial impact” to Ms Gow but refused her appeal – demanding that she complied with the original notice to “restore the character of the building to what it was before the alterations were carried out”. He said timber window frames are “a key feature in defining the special architectural and historic interest” of the B-listed building near the Meadows.
He added: “The appellant considers that the replacement windows, including by the use of double glazing, reduce the likelihood of condensation and damp affecting the flat and, thereby, improve living conditions in the property.”
Mr Field highlighted council planning guidance which states replacement windows “should be designed to replicate the original details, including materials, design and opening method”.
He continued: “It is clear from the guidance that the council does not rule out replacing windows in listed buildings to improve thermal performance. However, the guidance sets out what I consider to be reasonable parameters for doing this, both in terms of design and materials. The design and materials of the replacement windows in this case do not follow the guidance.”