Conservatories and conservation a tricky balance to strike
We live in a small hamlet of seven houses on the edge of Harrogate. Although all the houses are listed as Grade II and date back to the mid-17th century, it is our opinion they have no outstanding architectural merit. It seems ridiculous that they have been listed in the first place.
All the properties are built of stone and have stone slate roofs. We live in one half of what was originally the farmhouse but due to the nature and age of the building the windows are relatively small so the rooms are quite dark, even on a sunny day. We would dearly love to add a conservatory or garden room and would be prepared to accept a very traditional design that is in keeping with the house. Unfortunately, our initial inquiries to the local planning department have met with some opposition. What do you think are our chances of getting planning permission? Also if we submit an application, is it likely that someone from the planning department will make a visit? Our concern is that previous owners have carried out work to the house that we do not believe has been approved.
We understand that in some situations it is possible to challenge the listing of a property. Presumably if this was possible there would be significantly less restrictions on what we would be allowed to do?
It is a common misconception that buildings are only listed because they are deemed to be of architectural significance, as protected status through listing can be applied for many reasons. I recall several years ago working on a housing project in Bradford that required the demolition of a primary school. We discovered that one of the buildings could not be demolished as it was listed for being the first school kitchen in England to provide hot meals.
From your description it sounds as if the hamlet was a former farm with the main house and associated cottages for the workers. It may have been listed because of the grouping of buildings rather than the merits of individual houses. De-listing buildings is very rare and usually restricted to situations where the structure has gone beyond repair and there are no financially viable uses. I am not sure what you mean by a “traditional” conservatory. If your thoughts are along the lines of a white-painted timber frame complete with finials, then this owes its roots more to Victorian architecture than to that of a 17th century Yorkshire farmhouse.
It is sometimes possible to extend listed buildings but a skilful architectural approach is needed for an acceptable solution. Designs do not always have to be in keeping with the original property. A very modern approach is sometimes appropriate as it gives contrast between the old and new.
INSIDE OUT: Take time to plan your conservatory style. This is by Oakleaf Conservatories of York.