Coverdale church conversion plans rejected over UPVC windows

The building before renovation work took place.

Planning committee members have refused a retrospective planning application over the conversion of a former Coverdale church into two houses because UPVC windows have been fitted.

The windows will now need to be replaced and a new application will need to be submitted.

Richmondshire District councillor Yvonne Peacock told members of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s planning committee on Tuesday that they should go and see the high standard of workmanship Andrew Dent had carried out when converting the former Church of England School and Good Shepherd Church in Carlton in Coverdale before making a decision about some of the UPVC windows he had installed.

But the majority of the members refused his retrospective planning application as they agreed with the planning officer that by replacing the late 19th century windows at the front and the side of the building with UPVC ones he had harmed the character of what was described as an undesignated heritage asset.

Planning permission was given in 2011 to create an extension and two local needs dwellings side by side facing the highway.

Mr Dent explained that he bought the building in 2013 and decided to have one dwelling in the front and one at the back so that he did not need to break through external and internal walls to create doors.

He also installed UPVC windows rather than wooden ones which, he told the planning officer, would have cost about £50,000.

“The south facing windows did not have any frames. The glass was just set into the stone. It would be impossible to create the original look. New windows were, therefore, essential,” he said.

He added that only by installing the UPVC windows could he meet the fire escape regulations. He described the UPVC frames as being a neutral, earthy colour rather than yellow.

North Yorkshire County councillor John Blackie told the meeting that the windows were installed four years ago but only came to the notice of the authority when Mr Dent wanted to bring the planning permission in line with the latest policy which allows converted buildings to be used for short term holiday lets as well as local occupancy even though he plans that the dwellings will later be for two of his three sons.

Mr Dent not only offered to sign a legal agreement but also asked for the same planning  condition as had been approved some years ago on the UPVC windows installed in a Grade II listed building in Carlton.

This required any future reglazing to be agreed with the authority.

The planning officer reported that the internal conversion of the building carried out by Mr Dent was considered acceptable in principle and there was no longer any need for an extension. It had been agreed he could retain the UPVC windows at the back.

She maintained, however, that the windows to the front and side of the building could have been upgraded far more appropriately and showed members pictures of alternative solutions.

Mr Dent said about his work on the church and his former school: “It was so important to me to get the details correct and in keeping.”

ARC News Service.