Con­ser­va­to­ries and con­ser­va­tion a tricky bal­ance to strike

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY - Jonathon Wing­field

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.

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