Council defends installation of plastic window frames in 185-year-old home ‘deeply neglected’

The city council has defended a move to install plastic window frames in a 185-year-old home it recently bought after a neighbor complained about “devastating replacement” of the original wood window frames.

This John Street property overlooks Kingston Square and is located within the Georgian Council Preserve. The terraced houses on the street are among the oldest surviving residential properties in the city centre.

The council’s published assessment report on the nature of the conservation area specifically mentions several properties in the immediate neighborhood that retain their original “timber-symmetrical windows”. He goes on to highlight “the exquisite appearance afforded by the slender glazing bars and the three-dimensional quality that the sliding sash brings into the comfort of a widow”.

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However, the original wooden windows on the four-bedroom property were replaced with uPVC windows as part of a major renovation after Hull City Council bought them for £160,000 earlier this year. The house had previously been vacant for several years.

Neighbor Audrey Dunn said she was appalled by the decision to replace the windows even though she welcomed the face-lift underway in the house next door. She said: “Renovating this period of the house for occupation is a good thing because it has been so neglected over the years, the problem for me is replacing traditional sustainable wood window frames with uPVC plastic frames.

Plastic window frames replace the original wood frames in this early 19th-century listed house on John Street

“Regardless of the quality of the proposed uPVC, this petroleum-based material is completely inactivated in protected areas. It destroys the authenticity and charm of historic buildings and is easily recognized as inappropriate.

“Historic England and other interested parties are totally against such destructive alternatives, and presumably, at least on paper, it is Hull City Council. Environmentally, uPVC windows are only about 20 years old. After that, they are virtually indestructible and in locations burying waste.”

She said her original wood window frames are still in good shape, and showed that wood alternatives that look like adjacent wood will stand the test of time if cared for properly. “If the existing wooden windows have to be removed because of their condition, so be it, but I hope the Council will be responsible enough for the selection of the new wooden windows.

“By installing uPVC units, they are sending a wrong signal in the preservation area. They should be setting an example. In my opinion, uPVC windows destroy the authenticity of the old properties.”

In a statement, the council said: “Although 27 John Street is located in the Georgian Conservation District, the property itself is not listed. While we are replacing windows with uPVC frames for value-for-money reasons and in order to complete the renovation faster, we do so in a similar fashion with Advice from the planning department.

“This is not the first time this material has been used in the area with a number of privately owned homes on John Street that have already been renovated with uPVC windows in accordance with planning guidelines.” The council said the property was acquired as part of an ongoing program that allows the authority to renovate and return empty properties for use as affordable rental housing.

She added, “The Council annually makes 20 to 30 strategic acquisitions across the city under this initiative. Since 2012, more than 300 homes have been in use as council homes, more than 1,000 properties have been renovated and allowed in broader partnership with Housing associations and community housing organizations.

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