In May, unauthorised work began to switch the timber windows in the façade of the grade II-listed Schooner Hotel, in Alnmouth, for uPVC replacements, prompting angry villagers to contact Northumberland County Council’s planning enforcement team.
At the time, a spokeswoman for the authority said that it was ‘looking into the matter and liaising with those involved’.
Now, a planning application has been lodged to replace the eight white uPVC windows with new timber sash windows.
A combined heritage/design and access statement notes that the applicant replaced eight of the timber windows in the right-hand extended section with white uPVC windows in May 2019, ‘without any planning or listed building consent’.
The proposed new windows will be vertical sliding sash style ‘to closely match the windows that were removed’ and double-glazed – although there are calls for them to be single-glazed, like the originals.
The statement adds: ‘It is considered that the new windows will match closely the windows that were removed.
‘It is also considered that the impact on the street scene will be greatly enhanced (over the current scene), bringing the appearance back in-line with how it appeared before the uPVC windows were fitted.’
At its February meeting, Alnmouth Parish Council resolved to support the application, having been ‘very concerned at the unauthorised removal’ of the originals and ‘the installation of the grossly inappropriate uPVC replacements’.
Given the circumstances, the parish council is calling for a three or four-month time limit to be applied for the works to be carried out.
The response from the county council’s building conservation team states: ‘The application is framed such that replacing the unauthorised uPVC windows with timber-framed, double-glazed sash windows might be considered an enhancement.
‘However, the true impact must be judged against the loss of the traditional single-glazed sashes removed without consent in 2019.’
It adds: ‘The overall significance of the windows removed without consent cannot be recovered by the copies proposed as all historic and evidential value has been lost.’