By Jenni Davidson
Planning permission has been refused for modern windows in a historic Brighton conservation area.
The double glazed UPVC windows had already been fitted to the second floor flat in Clifton Street, Brighton.
The owner, Mr Randolph Morse of Cleve Terrace, Lewes, had applied for retrospective planning permission for the new windows.
Permission was refused because Clifton Street lies within the West Hill Conservation Area.
There are 33 conservation areas in Brighton and Hove.
Conservation areas are subject to strict ‘Article 4 Direction‘ planning rules in order to preserve the special historic character of the locality.
These rules limit the kinds of alterations to buildings that are normally permitted.
Planning guidelines state that in conservation areas original windows should be retained unless ‘beyond economic repair’.
If replacement windows are fitted, they must closely match the original ones in style, size, material and method of opening.
Mr Morse told Brighton and Hove City Council’s planning committee this afternoon (Wednesday 29 January) that he was unaware of the rules.
“This was not deception, believe me,” he said. “It was just a very regrettable mistake due to ignorance.”
“Would it really be fair to make us tear out the windows that make no noticeable difference to the street?” he asked.
He added that his intention had been to keep his tenants warm and reduce the carbon footprint of the flat.
Mr Morse also told the committee that he had spoken to other residents on the street and 41 of the 57 houses said they no problem with the windows.
Eight other houses and flats in the Clifton Street already have UPVC windows.
The planning officer’s report states that there is “no planning history for these unauthorised and harmful alterations”.
Councillor Leo Littmann commented: “Mr Morse has broken the eleventh commandment that says ‘Thou shalt not get caught’!”
Councillor Geoffrey Wells supported Mr Morse’s position.
He said: “If I’d been walking along the street as an ordinary layman, I would have failed to notice any windows had changed to PVC.”
While several councillors expressed their sympathy to Mr Morse, the majority affirmed the need to uphold the planning rules.
“I’m really sorry for Mr Morse. He’s in a really invidious position. But we can’t just support breaches of policy,” said Councillor Mike Jones.
Planning permission was refused by eight to two with one abstention.
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