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Conservation Area Issues In Louth

May 10th 2021

A view of St James from Westgate Fields  
Much of the centre of Louth is covered by a Conservation Area. This includes much of the Priory and St James wards, including streets such as Lee Street, Queen Street, Kidgate, Westgate, Westgate Fields, Church Street, most of Eastgate, Riverhead, George Street, James Street, and Broadbank.

This means that there are restrictions on what can be built or demolished. The idea is to protect Louth's character, especially its Georgian and Victorian architecture. In a Conservation Area, building improvements that don't normally need planning permission, such as changes to windows and doors, small extensions, or solar panels, are likely to need permission from the council to go ahead.

It also means that work to trees has to have permission, other than some very specific work such as trimming them back so they don't obstruct a path.

Full details of what can and can't be done can be found on the East Lindsey District Council website.

Drawbacks

We've just had a local election, and as a candidate in Louth South ward I spoke to a lot of people who live within the Conservation Area. While the town's special character is very important to Ludensians, there are drawbacks.

One of these is the extra expense involved in replacing windows and doors on older properties. When these become draughty, rotten, and poorly insulated, they are expected to be replaced on a like-for-like basis, with sympathetic materials such as wood rather than PVC. There is also the added expense and time involved in putting in a planning application and making sure the council approves of it. So the materials are dearer and potentially won't last as long, the doors and windows will often need to be bespoke, and with planning costs it's often more expensive all round.

Unfortunately, not everyone can afford the extra expense, and this can lead to homes being in less good repair while residents save up the money to make more expensive and complicated changes. That means homes in a Conservation Area can be very poorly insulated for want of simple fixes. This is bad news during a climate emergency when we need households to waste less energy on heating.

Grant availability

There is a scheme called Green Home Grants, administered by East Lindsey District Council, aimed at helping those whose homes have poor energy efficiency to improve the energy rating of their homes. These grants should be available in Louth in the autumn, and will cover things such as boiler replacement and better insulation. Unfortunately, these grants won’t cover replacement windows in a conservation area.

It's in all of our interests that homes are as warm and well-insulated as possible. The issue of the higher cost of replacing windows and doors in a Conservation Area is a gap in the government's policy which will make it harder for the country to achieve its climate goals.

Clearly, there are many competing claims on government finances and resources, particularly now as we emerge from the pandemic. But this is an area worth keeping in mind for the future. We need to cut carbon emissions and make sure homes are comfortable and properly insulated, and homes in Conservation Zones are one place where a grant scheme has the potential to do some good.



 


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