The saga of the "Chiltern water mill" has taken on a life of its own, and readers are recommended to check Nemesis' blog (in the right hand toolbar) as a gateway to the pros and cons.
I have had other fish to fry today (the rest of today's blog will seem rather dull compared to the cut n thrust of recent exchanges), with the news that the government is planning to scrap the various exemptions to the "energy efficiency" Part L of the Building Regulations, which currently apply to certain classes of historic building.
However, given the proposed replacement clauses set out below, I can't quite see how the end result differs from the current situation, begging the question of why English Heretics think it's necessary to seem to be supporting a change in the rules, and having a vast and time-consuming survey on the subject, when the net effect will (quite rightly, in my view) be no change at all:
PROPOSAL TO REMOVE EXEMPTIONS FOR HISTORIC BUILDINGS FROM PART L OF THE BUILDING REGULATIONS
Government is considering removing the exemption under Part L that currently exists for:
• listed buildings
• buildings in conservation areas
• scheduled ancient monuments
• churches (unconditionally)
The criterion against which exemption is judged is whether compliance would unacceptably alter their character or appearance.Any proposal to remove the exemption will have to be approved by the Building Regulations Advisory Committee and ministers before going to public consultation.
English Heritage did not request [that comes as a surpirse to many of us] the exemptions but clearly their removal will have implications which must be considered. We are working with CLG to assess these.
Part L of the Building Regulations deals with the conservation of fuel and power and tightening targets is one of the main vehicles for reducing carbon emissions. The UK changes are mandated under the European Directive (Energy Performance in Buildings Directive). Part L was revised in 2002 and 2006 and work is well advanced on changes to be made in 2010.
Back in 2000 English Heritage objected to energy efficiency proposals which could harm historic buildings: notably requirements to;
significantly reduce natural ventilation of buildings, provide gratuitous insulation and only allow double glazing.
Working closely with ODPM (now CLG) resulted in special consideration being given to historic buildings with the aim being: “to improve energy efficiency where and to the extent that it is practically possible, [but] not prejudice the character of the historic building, or increase the risk of long term deterioration to the building fabric or fittings”.
• Work specifically allowed to historic buildings– replacing lost elements (eg facsimiles of historic windows)– rebuilding lost buildings (eg a gap site in an important terrace)– making provisions to allow buildings to “breathe”
Those paragraphs are included within the Approved Documents for Part L . English Heritage has consistently supported the line that exemptions for historic buildings (allowed under the Directive) were not needed [there's that surprise again, those of us who were there at the time have a rather different recollection], provided that historic buildings were given special consideration. Our view has been that:
• historic buildings can accommodate significant benign changes (eg energy efficient lighting, boilers, pipework, loft insulation etc)
• we did not want to create a two tier approach where listed buildings are left alone and all other traditional buildings (pre 1919) are ‘fair game’
• unimproved historic buildings might end up being blighted during economic downturns in some parts of the countryUnfortunately when the 2006 changes were made, the definition of historic buildings was removed – inadvertently I am assured. Amendments are proposed including the reinstatement of a revised definition to read:
…listed buildings and those in conservation areas have an exemption from the energy efficiency requirements where compliance would unacceptably alter their character or appearance. There are three further categories of buildings where special consideration is encouraged:
a) buildings which are of architectural and historical interest and which are referred to as a material consideration in a local authority’s development plan; or
b) buildings which are of architectural and historical interest within national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty, registered historic parks and gardens, registered battlefields, the curtilages of scheduled ancient monuments, and world heritage sites; or
c) buildings of traditional construction with permeable fabric that both absorbs and readily allows the evaporation of moisture
This may be introduced when a few other minor changes are made although no date has been given.
2010 changes2010 changes to Part L are well advanced and CLG hope to go to public consultation in April 2009. They are aiming for a tightening in targets to achieve 25% improvement in energy savings over 2006. The proposal is to remove the exemptions and the following provisions have been suggested by CLG:
Historic and traditional buildings
3.6 When establishing reasonable provision for the conservation of fuel and power, special considerations apply to the following classes of building:
a) listed buildings;
b) buildings in conservation areas;
c) scheduled ancient monuments
d) buildings which are of architectural and historical interest and which are referred to as a material consideration in a local authority’s development plan;
e) buildings which are of architectural and historical interest within national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty, registered historic parks and gardens, registered battlefields, the curtilages of scheduled ancient monuments, and world heritage sites;
f) buildings of traditional construction with permeable fabric that both absorbs and readily allows the evaporation of moisture.
3.7 When undertaking work on or in connection with a building that falls within one of the classes listed in paragraph 3.6, the aim should be to improve energy efficiency where and to the extent that it is reasonable and practically possible. The work should not prejudice the character of the host building or increase the risk of long-term deterioration of the building fabric or fittings. The guidance given in the English Heritage publication Building Regulations and Historic Buildings, English Heritage, 2002 (revised 2004) should be taken into account in determining appropriate energy performance standards for such building works. Particular issues relating to work in historic buildings that warrant sympathetic treatment and where advice from others could therefore be beneficial include:
a) restoring the historic character of a building that has been subject to previous inappropriate alteration, e.g. replacement windows, doors and rooflights;
b) rebuilding a former historic building (e.g. following a fire or filling a gap site in a terrace);
c) making provisions enabling the fabric of historic buildings to ‘breathe’ to control moisture and potential long term decay problems.
3.8 In arriving at a balance between historic building conservation and reasonable provision for energy efficiency improvements, it would be appropriate to take into account the advice of the local authority’s conservation officer.
Good lord above...
5 months ago