|ramsgate historyramsgate then and nowhistoric-buildingsbuildings-at-riskplanning-mattersblue plaques||
Ramsgate is blessed with the greatest concentration of heritage buildings anywhere in the UK. Not all of course enjoy 'Listed' status but they all go towards making Ramsgate the beautiful example of Georgian, Regency and Victorian architecture that is Ramsgate. In consultation with Thanet District Council's Conservation officer we reproduce here a map that outlines our Conservation Area. Minster and Monkton also have their areas of Conservation. The quality of the map is not good at this scale but it does serve to illustrate its extent for Society members and others use. Thanks go to TDC Conservation in reproducing this document, which is to hopefully encourage awareness of the extent of our Conservation Area. From what can be gathered many would like to see it enlarged markedly to better encompass our Victorian heritage, but for the moment this is its current size.
The Ramsgate Society continues to be very active in ensuring conservation of our built heritage, not only within the Conservation Areas of the town and outlying villages but also the wider townscape where there are many buildings and general areas worthy of appreciation.
The use of uPVC replacement doors and windows concerns The Ramsgate Society, particularly in respect to the Conservation Area and adjacent properties. It is not an answer to replacing older - not always worn out - windows and doors.
An edited selection from the Spring 2009 issue of The Ramsgate Society magazine About Ramsgate on the use of uPVC...
It continues to concern us the number of applications that from time to time appear for the use of replacement uPVC (plastic) windows to properties within the various conservation areas. We are also concerned for those properties outside the conservation area where we have seen uPVC inflicted upon older buildings of quite exquisite design, most notably some of our better Victorian properties. It has to be observed that, however much they try, plastic cannot replicate the proportions and architectural detailing / mouldings of good quality wooden joinery, with in many instances the plastic looking grossly incongruous.
In discussing this with the Council's Conservation Officer, he confirms what has long been known about uPVC windows and doors, the writer of this article having been involved with their installation in great numbers, in some cases ripping out previously installed failing systems in favour of new. It is routine to see original wooden windows and doors in excess of 100 years old and still in good working order (after some basic simple maintenance for those less so) being replaced by uPVC, not infrequently inflicting damage to brickwork that is then often made good in an unskilled and quite unsatisfactory way. Why, we ask, when the replacements only have a potential (still unproven by time in the UK) life of between 10 and 20 years!
The first things to start giving trouble are the ironmongery items - locks, bolts and hinges. While they are failing the seals to the glass, and elsewhere, are shrinking in their length such that after 10 years they do not meet in the corners, often by as much as an inch or more (25mm) depending of window sizes. So in a period of another 100 years, on that expected life span, the property owner can expect to have to replace or heavily repair a further 3 times - if the installing companies remain in business that long.
Then there are the doubtful 'green' credentials. The original wooden windows are undoubtedly 'green', and replacements in wood again green, especially if from managed forests. uPVC on the other hand is not! The plastic itself is not easily recyclable, though the steel frame beneath, for those so constructed, is - if, that is, it can be separated from the encasing plastic!
As far as maintenance is concerned many cite the continued maintenance required to external wood joinery. This is something of a myth brought about by the seemingly ever lowering of paint manufacturing specifications. Lead went from paint many years ago and while manufacturers would say they have not lowered specifications the evidence of paint exposed to sunlight now peeling off after 2 years would suggest otherwise, unless of course sunlight is getting stronger. Your Planning Officer writing this informs the readership that our own sun-exposed external joinery is now stripped back to bare (1898) wood and is now painted with a system that it had all that time ago, and which was found to still be in the wood - that of a linseed oil based paint system. We expect to repaint with a quick touch-up coat in about 14 years - about in fact the probable life of uPVC for those earlier failures. Linseed oil paints do however take a while to dry.
In pursuing this question of life expectancy we emailed a manufacturer to enquire of uPVC and its carbon footprint. This relating to uPVC performance over wood in that 100 year or so time period. Asked was the life expectancy, the carbon footprint of manufacture, transport and installation for as many times as the life expectancy expired in that 100 year time frame. Three Months later we are still waiting for a reply - you can draw your own conclusions! We would of course welcome comments from manufacturers on these points.